6 Tips to Open Your Heart Chakra


1) Exercise before you meditate

In general, you’ll have a better meditation experience if you exercise before you meditate. We recommend yoga, running, swimming and walking. Please check with your doctors first to determine a particular exercise regimen that works for your current health condition(s). The key is consistency. Doctors recommend working out at least four to five times per week and at least 30 minutes per session for a healthy adult.

Yoga has roots in helping meditation practitioners improve their meditation practice. Body, mind and spirit are interconnected. Through yoga movements, your body achieves a state of relaxation prior to your meditation practice.

Running is great. Not only do you increase your heart rate, but you also let go of your day.

Swimming is a whole body workout. Swimming is exceedingly beneficial when you have a lot of stress in your life. When you swim, you immerse your body in water. Water neutralizes your energy body. After a swim, you feel the weight lifted from your body.

Walking in a park gives the benefits of exercising and spending time in nature. Studies show spending time in nature reduces stress.

2) Volunteer

Volunteering is a key to open your heart chakra. Volunteering is an act of selfless giving. When you engage in an activity for the sole purpose of the welfare of others, it transcends your state of mind and makes you happy.

Pick a volunteering event that is close to your heart. We volunteered at Second Harvest Food Bank (http://www.shfb.org/) in the past. We believe everyone in America should be fed and sheltered. Through this volunteering event, we learned more than 250,000 people rely on food from Second Harvest Bank every month in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, including 100,000 children. As a community, together we can end the hunger.

The miracle of doing volunteer work is that you feel the openness of your own heart. Volunteering is selfless giving. When you give selflessly, your problems and concerns fade away temporarily. You realize your problems and concerns are insignificant compared to others’ suffering.

You realize it is a privilege to help others. The goodness you feel through volunteering will carry you into a state of gratitude and joy. Try it. It works!

3) Chant

You can spend a few minutes chanting prior to starting your meditation practice. You can chant a mantra such as Om Mani Padme Hum (pronunciate as ohm mah nee pahd may hum). Om Mani Padme Hum means the jewel is within the lotus. Happiness and joy are within you. You can listen to this chant by Mercedes Bahleda.

You can chant devotional songs such as “O God Beautiful”. This chant, written by Guru Nanak, was translated into English and made known in the West by Paramhansa Yogananda.

4) Read books that inspire you before you meditate

Swami Brahmanada encourages us to read devotional scriptures before we meditate. Read a few pages from books and teachings that are written by enlightened teachers, such as “Whispers from Eternity” by Paramahansa Yogananda, “The Eternal Companion: A Guidebook for Spiritual Practice” by Swami Prabhavananda or “The Song of God: Bhagavad-Gita” translated by Swam Prahavananda and Christopher Isherwood, prior to your meditation.

5) Meditate!

Mediation will make you happy and open your heart chakra.

6) Opening the heart chakra is a process

Opening the heart chakra is a process. It takes practice. It takes patience. Constant practice will open your heart chakra.

Pick a tip listed above. Practice it. If you have other tips that you practice to open the heart chakra, please share them via the comment box below.


5 Ways to Improve Your Life Through Meditation

meditation improves your life

Does it feel like your life is lacking something? This feeling of unworthiness can occur for a variety of reasons. From dissatisfaction over personal appearance to the loneliness of a stay-at-home parent who miss working in an office, the focus of life can quickly become our shortcomings instead of our successes. These shortcomings lead to fears and these fears ultimately lead to a life that is connected through misery instead of joy.

One of the most effective ways to correct your mind is to begin the practice of meditation. Meditation has the ability to profoundly change a life in a number of ways, even if today is the very first time you give it a go. Here’s how:

1. Meditation gives you a fresh start. When you’re having a difficult time, taking a few minutes out of your day to meditate is like hitting the restart button on your computer. All of these glitches and delays that are slowing you down go away and what you’re left with is the clean slate of the restart. Whether that happens when you first wake up, when you’re trying to go to bed, or during a break at work, it is important to know that a fresh start can be had at any time.

2. Meditation gives you better positivity. There are a wide variety of meditative styles, but they all lead to one final conclusion: a more positive outlook on life. The core of this positive experience comes from removing the barriers that resentment and negativity build up to replace them with open spaces filled with love, joy, and peace. Can’t tear down those walls just yet? That’s fine – meditation can help you build a bridge of love over those walls until they can come down.

3. Meditation brings forth discipline. Self-control is always important just for the fact that we keep ourselves in line. Eating desserts instead of a healthy snack is always the wanted option, but self-control lets us realize that a healthy snack is more of what we need and then provides joy in the experience of being healthy. There’s no longer a need to pretend or be something that you’re not. You simply become who you really are through meditation.

4. Meditation reduces anxiety. When you’re struggling with fear, no matter the reason for the fear, then you’re ultimately going to have anxiety as a side effect. This is because of the flight-or-fight response that is naturally engrained into our genetics as human beings. The anxiety triggers the response and the response is what gets us into trouble at times. By reducing the fear and negative perceptions, anxiety will naturally decrease as a result.

5. Meditation provides you with better self-insight. One of the most difficult tasks in the practice of meditation is to get to know your authentic self. When a lie is lived long enough, it begins to be believed on the very core level of one’s mind, but not by the authentic self. Meditation removes the disconnect and helps you create happiness through a soul that might be more exposed, but also truly honest and open about the further possibilities of life.

The best news of all is that meditation can be easily added into any lifestyle. You don’t need to dedicate an hour of time! You just need a few minutes, a quiet space, and the chance to be alone. From there, simply push away the negative thoughts and fears that are holding you back and you’ll be able to begin finding joy in each experience.


Can You Afford Not To Meditate?

guy meditating

There are two primary skills that people need in this modern life: the ability to focus and the ability to concentrate. Without these skills, it is difficult to get the tasks done that have to be done every day. It goes beyond the workplace – without focus and concentration, laundry falls behind, dishes don’t get washed, and carpets don’t get vacuumed.

Some might say that they don’t have enough time for meditation because of all the jobs that need to be done. The reality is that you can’t afford not to meditate daily because meditation is one of the most effective ways to develop these two essential skills that are required of people in today’s Twitter age.

How Does Improved Focus and Concentration Help?

Think about what happens during your average work day. You’ve got a number of distractions that are all headed your way like a heat-seeking missile:

  • there’s the co-worker with a full cup of coffee who wants to talk about last night’s TV shows, or
  • there’s the constant ringing and dinging of your social media notifications, and
  • there’s always your boss who comes in with an emergency project that needs to be completed by 5pm, along with all of the other work that is due for the day.

By utilizing your skills of focus and concentration, you can have your mind prioritize the tasks at hand and actually begin to do things simultaneously. It’s like a web browser for the mind that can have multiple tabs up at the same time. You’ve got multiple thought strands running, but you’re focusing on one page while the others await your attention to display the information you need.

How Does Meditation Help This Process?

As you meditate, you’re causing your mind to compartmentalize the conscious mind, the subconscious mind, and the patterns of thoughts that are always racing through your head. That’s why finding time to meditate every day is so important to success in this modern life! No other practice allows you the opportunity to practice the skill of compartmentalization so that you can make sure the right page on your mental web browser is displayed at the right time, every time.

One of the most difficult things to resist is an urge. We have urges every day that cause us to become distracted. That’s the hardest part about having multiple mental web browsers up and active, because it’s so easy to flip between the pages! When you do that, it feels like you’re getting a lot accomplished and you wear yourself out, but in the end nothing really ever got done, did it? Resisting the urge to constantly flip pages requires discipline and that’s often the missing component that people need.

With Discipline, Anything Is Possible!

The first step on your pathway to greater discipline is to make sure you take time every day to meditate. As you practice this discipline, begin applying it to your skills of focus and concentration so that you can stay at that one open mental web browser page for as long as you need to get the job done. No matter what that job may be, from laundry to the signing of a a new contract, it is through the practice of meditation that you will find the most success.

Make time for meditation today and you may be surprised at how fast your skills develop!


A Day at Muir Woods


I love coming to the Muir Woods National Monument. On a recent March weekend, it was very crowded, but it is always a bit crowded here because it is the epitome of nature’s beauty. Coming on a weekday morning is often the best time to avoid most of the crowds, but Muir Woods is never truly empty.

Why is that? Because there is something special about this park. Even if you’re used to cool temperatures, you’ll want to bring along a jacket because the temperature seems to always be in the mid-60′s. What I love about Muir Woods in March, however, is the fact that Spring is blooming wild and free within the forest. The new leaves are out. The stream seems to be running with an extra gusto right now.

It all encourages a state of mind that wants to actively meditate.

These stately redwoods that seem to touch the sky remind me of ancient visitors. They reach out to invite you to be with them no matter who you are. It is a cool, nurturing energy that surrounds you, welcomes you, and holds you as you explore underneath the canopy. Even in the silence of Muir Woods that you can find, there never really is silence. These ancient beings are speaking softly and quietly to encourage each visitor to be a little bit better today than they were yesterday.

The main trail at Muir Woods is a paved road, which means anyone of any age or ability can accept the invitation that has been offered. This trail might be busy much of the time, but there is a beauty in this hectic scene. There’s a mother pushing a stroller. There are couples who are holding hands, providing a warmth to each other in the chill of an early Spring day. There’s a daughter exploring Muir Woods from her wheelchair. There are several different languages that tickle the ear as they filter through the forest.

In many ways, the main trail of Muir Woods is a reflection of humanity. All should be welcome, no matter who you are or what you’ve done. Your invitation is waiting. “Come, join us,” the trees seem to say.

I accepted my invitation by sitting next to a running stream for a short break. A stone in the stream caught my eye and time seemed to stand still. I enjoyed being in this one, perfect moment for what seemed like a lifetime! Afterwards, I placed my hand on one of the trees, these ancient beings standing tall, and could feel its breath match my own.

Muir Woods is filled with many amazing beings. We breathe out and they breathe in. It is a symbiosis that brings life to each of us, intertwining us together throughout all of space and time. I chanted a mantra: Om Mani Padme Hum or the “jewel is within the lotus.” It means happiness and joy are within. It became my meditation as I walked amongst these ancient beings, feeling their happiness and joy merge with my own.

A quick visit to the gift shop brought my journey this day to a close. A magnet to remember this perfect moment, a pen to help me write down future memories of perfect moments, and a couple bookmarks to recall my experiences within Muir Woods.


7 Steps To Love Life Now


Life can be hard. That’s actually giving life a compliment some days, isn’t it? There are days when life seems to grind people up and then spit them out. Thankfully no one must simply accept this as their reality! These 7 steps will help get you on the journey toward loving life every day, no matter what may come your way.

Step 1: Ignore Perfection

It’s the biggest trap there is in the world today. By being perfect, people are told that they can finally be someone. That they can achieve their dreams and be anything that they want to be. No one needs to be perfect in order to achieve a dream. Instead of running toward a perfect moment, run toward those moments that bring authentic contentment.

Step 2: Eliminate Procrastination

The more proactive a person happens to be, the more likely they are to love life. Why? Because when difficult circumstances arrive, it’s very easy to put off dealing with that difficulty. When procrastination happens, however, the stresses of those difficulties weighs down a person like nothing else really can. No one needs to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. Be proactive and this never needs to happen.

Step 3: People Create Their Own Circumstances

Opportunities come because people make them. Positive energy attracts other positive energies. Negative energies attract misery. If all a person sees is negativity, there’s a very good chance that’s what that individual is putting out into the world as well.

Step 4: Enjoy Life

People get so busy with life that they miss the fun opportunities that present themselves on a daily basis. It could be a walk along the river, a few moments of being barefoot in the grass outside, or attending a baseball game. Make time for more fun and this will carve out more love for life on a daily basis!

Step 5: It’s Good to Be Alive!

The details of life can become cumbersome, bothersome, and downright depressing. Sometimes these details can’t be ignored – after all, taxes need to be paid! That doesn’t mean that people can’t enjoy the good things that are part of being alive. Having a cool breeze blow in your face, the sun’s rays warm you on a chilly day, or just the smile of a loved one all prove that it really is good to be alive every single day.

Step 6: What’s Really Going To Happen?

What is the worst thing that could happen today? What are the chances that this worst-case scenario is actually going to happen? A little perspective can go a long way to realize that there is a lot to love in life. Many people are blessed beyond compare, but because they’re drowning in so much negativity, they just can’t see it. This step can really help someone begin to swim back towards a positive beach once again.

Step 7: Find Gratefulness

Being content is where love occurs. In everything, give thanks.

Every second that passes the world by is a second that can never be lived again. Love life, find the blessings in each second, and the world really can become a better place.


6 Ways to Be Happy

Choose Happiness

Have you heard that happiness is a choice? It is a choice that you make everyday. Making that choice seems so easy for some people, doesn’t it? The reason why the choice of happiness is easier for some than it is for others is that there are ways you can cultivate happiness and have it grow in your life every day. Here’s how you can make that become your reality too!

1. Live a Healthy Life

What goes in is what is going to come out. If your focus is on junk food, snacks, sodas, and high caloric content foods, you’re only cultivating short-term happiness. To cultivate long-term happiness, focus on eating right, drinking enough water, and taking care of yourself with a little exercise every day. A better diet can even reduce your risks of future health risks, which potentially means a longer life!

2. Lose a Little Weight If Needed

Doctors hound people to lose weight because they know that even a 10% drop in weight can lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels dramatically. Less weight also generally increases self-confidence, which is one of the building blocks of happiness! Don’t go on a crash diet because that can increase your risks of certain health issues, particularly gallstones. Trying to lose a pound or two each month and take satisfaction in the process instead!

3. Find Contentment

Without contentment, we’re constantly striving to have more, be more, buy more, do more, work harder, or work smarter so that we can be someone “better.” The problem is that once “better” is achieved, there’s a new “better” to achieve and so the cycle never ends. Those caught in that cycle struggle with happiness for one simple reason: they never really are satisfied. The more we find a way to be content with our current circumstances, the more we’re able to experience happiness.

4. Be Patient

By demanding that happiness must occur, the result is that happiness will flee. Be patient and happiness will come to you in its own time, when it’s ready. While you’re waiting for it to arrive, you have the perfect opportunity to practice being content in your current circumstances.

5. Be Generous

The modern concept of karma is that what goes around comes back around. In that spirit, by being generous to others and working to increase their happiness, the same will eventually come around to you. A life well lived is a life where others are loved just as much as one loves themselves, which means sometimes putting others, even strangers, ahead of you on the priority list. Although there’s no guarantee for a return, of course, there is something pleasant about changing someone’s life for the better, even if it’s just in some small way.

6. Find the Positive in Everything

It’s easy to find problems. It’s not as easy to find the good in every situation. Misery loves company, so the more negativity you seek to find, the more miserable you’re likely to become. Find the positive in even the worst of situations and you’ll discover that happiness could be right around the corner.

Being happy might be a choice, but we’ve got to cultivate that choice so that it can appear when we need it to be there. By following these examples, happiness really can be easier to find!


5 Great Tips To Boost Your Meditation Practice

boost your meditation practice

Has your meditation time become shorter than it has been in the past? Are you maybe struggling with meditation practices because you just can’t sit still? Meditation does have certain key components to it that make it such a helpful practice, but ultimately meditation is tailored to be individualized and unique. These 5 tips will help you become more comfortable while meditating and hopefully breathe some life back into your practice.

Tip #1: It’s Ok To Let Some Thoughts Creep In

One of the first pieces of advice you’ll get when learning to meditation is to “keep stray thoughts from entering your mind.” It’s true that perfect meditation will suppress random, racing thoughts so they don’t interfere with the mediation process, but expecting perfection from an imperfect human vessel is unrealistic. It’s ok to let some thoughts creep into your mind. Instead of thinking about the your stressful workday, however, try thinking about things that makes you happy.

Tip #2: Let It Come Naturally

Meditation causes the mind and body to settle down naturally. Each body is unique, which means the settling pattern that your body needs is something that you’ll need to discover for yourself. Taking the advice of others is a good place to start when it comes to meditation, but don’t try to force yourself to meditate a certain way if it’s just not working! Let the relaxation seep in naturally, keep track of what started that process, and you’ll be able to adapt the “right” way to “your” way.

Tip #3: Be Reasonable With Your Expectations

The expectations you have about your meditation will likely dictate how successful or unsuccessful each session happens to be. There’s nothing wrong with setting high expectations as a beginner, but to experience expert-level status meditation benefits on your second ever meditation session isn’t a realistic expectation! If anything, simply aim to be a little bit better tomorrow than you are today with your meditation practices and you’ll soon discover that your growth charts will be way outside the curve!

Tip #4: Practice Positive Self-Talk

When failure hits, and failure will always hit you at some point during the journey toward better meditation, don’t let the negative self-talk begin. You’re not “stupid.” You’re not a “failure.” You can meditate and you can be a success! Speak positively to yourself whenever you feel like being in a negative mood and you’ll increase your chances of having a successful meditation session.

Tip #5: Keep Going!

In order to get good at something, you’ve got to keep practicing. The more you practice every day, the better each subsequent mediation session will seem. You’ll experience deeper relaxation, more energy, and potentially even more happiness! So what if it wasn’t a perfect meditation session today? Learn from what happened today so that it doesn’t get repeated tomorrow!

Daily meditation can be maximized when you consistently use these tips. Take the good out of this advice today so that tomorrow, your next mediation session can potentially be the best ever!


5 Steps to Defeat Stress


Stress can get to everyone at some point in their life. We experience little moments of stress every day when something doesn’t go right. It could be that guy who just cut you off in traffic or it could be your boss going back on their word about a promotion. Either way, the more proactive we all are about the stress that surrounds us, the less that stress can be in control. We can be in control!

Here are 5 ways that you can be more proactive against life’s stresses beginning today:

Learn to say “No.” One of the biggest causes of stress in life is the feeling of obligation that we all have to certain people. We say we can get something done even though we know it’ll take a miracle of supernatural proportions to make that happen! The instant we say “Yes I can do that for you,” the stress begins. That means there is no greater way to be proactive against the stress of life than to learn to say “No!” when something just can’t get done.

Take some time with nature. There is no greater force that controls stress better than Mother Nature. Sure, a hurricane here or a tornado there will send people into anxiety and sometimes a tsunami will destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, yet even in the greatest disasters there are places where peace, serenity, and gentleness are the order of the day. Be proactive and find this places that nature provides and you’ll be able to gather up the strength you need to tackle a difficult situation.

Take care of yourself. When your body is worn down, you’ll experience more stress simply because you won’t have the willpower to be proactive against it. The worst decisions that people make are when they’re scared, they’re stressed, or they’ve been hurt in some way and that’s when trouble starts. If you focus on wellness, both physically and mentally, then you’ll also be naturally focusing on proactive ways to defeat stress on a daily basis. Let good stuff go in so great stuff can come out!

Make sure you get enough rest. When your body is in a constant state of being tired, it begins to crave certain things to make it stay awake. That means unhealthy snacks, fatty foods, and undoubtedly lots of caffeine. Your body also tends to store these extra calories as fat when you don’t get enough rest, ultimately giving you less energy on a long-term basis! Know how much sleep you need every night and, worst case scenario, schedule it into your calendar to make sure you get it so you can have more clarity against the stress.

Celebrate every victory. With stress constantly around, it can seem like there aren’t any victories to be had because stress is never defeated. That’s a dangerous trap! Any time you are proactive against stress and remove it from your life, even if it’s just for a moment, that is a small victory. Begin celebrating each small victory you receive and you’ll begin to notice a pattern of you being great against the storm of craziness that always seems to be around you!

We can’t necessarily control the chaos that surrounds us, but we can be proactive and do something about how it affects us each day. Use these tips as you see fit in your life and you’ll be taking a step toward a calmer, happier life that is keeping the stress out every single day!


5 Tips To Live An Exceptional Life

living an exceptional life

That brick wall which just hit you is life declaring that you just don’t have the ability to really control your life! It’s a lie, but it’s a lie that is coated in a spoonful of sugar, so it goes down easy and is very believable. Although you can’t always predict good days or bad days, you can predict your reaction to the chaotic nature of life during a bad day and turn even the worst days around into something better.

To do that, you’re going to need some tools in your toolbox. Here are 5 of the best tools you can have at your disposal:

1. Trust Your Gut Instinct

How many times in life have you second-guessed yourself, only to discover that your gut instinct was the right move to make? No one really knows yourself better than you do. You can’t keep secrets from yourself! Go with what your inner voice is telling you to do because chances are that’s going to be the right move to make.

2. Don’t Expect Perfection!

Each person is his or her own worst critic. Even people who say they don’t care about perfection do care about leaving a good first impression. People will fail because humans fail. People will make mistakes in judgment because humans make mistakes in judgment. Guess what? You’re a person. That makes you human. Perfection won’t happen, but a good first impression can almost always be had… but only if you’re willing to allow it to make its presence known.

3. Remember How Blessed You Are

When you’re in the midst of chaos, it really becomes the only thing you can see. The swirling winds of negativity surround you and life suddenly is all about what you don’t have or what you feel you should have. The best way to get rid of that negative spiral is to just take a few moments and make a list of the blessings you do have in life. The old adage that you get what you sow is very true, so the more good you sow, the more good you’ll be able to harvest. Remembering your blessings can help you change the seeds you’re sowing each day.

4. Allow Forgiveness To Happen

It can feel empowering to be angry, but you’ve got to put that anger into something useful or it is an energy that will consume you. It takes a lot of energy to stay angry, even if that anger is righteous and justified. Being able to forgive others isn’t always about letting people get off the hook. Sometimes forgiveness is simply about letting you move on from a problem so that life can continue to proceed.

5. Gratefulness

Even when life is a mess, there’s always a certain level of gratefulness that can be found. It might be just a solitary moment, a favorite treat, or a cool breeze blowing through your hair. Gratefulness opens more doors than it closes and as a tool it helps to discover the extraordinary in what we tend to overlook as ordinary every day.

With these tools available and at the ready, chaos doesn’t stand a chance! Quiet your storm today and reclaim the life you want!


Is It Possible To Find a Happy Place in the Midst of Chaos?


It’s tough these days to find a place of contentment unless you’re truly seeking it out. Phones ring at all hours of the day. Facebook notifications draw us back toward the computer even when we’ve got other things we’d rather be doing. E-mail notifications at 2am can ring, making it difficult to get back to sleep. In the midst of all this chaos, is it really possible to find a happy place where contentment reigns supreme?

It is possible if you are willing to make four potential changes in your life:

Find time to step away from it all. There’s only so much that your mind can take. It might be a sponge that can absorb a lot of data, but even a sponge can become overflow and leak out liquid! Find time to step back from all the distractions every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes, so you can find some peace from it all. You’d reset your computer when it begins to get errors, right? Take the time to restart your mind once and awhile too.

Find a place that you can breathe in some fresh air. There’s something that causes the air in my office to plug up my nose every day. If I’m in the office for too long, I start getting this creeping headache that sets in, right around the upper part of my sinuses. Add in the tension from a tough day and a full blown migraine isn’t out of the question! By finding fresh air and breathing it in deeply, the extra oxygen can literally recharge your system, much like you’d recharge your iPhone when the battery is low.

Don’t assume responsibility for everything. The reason why so many people begin to feel overwhelmed is because they try to do everything on their own. This on its own creates chaos, but when it becomes combined with all the other chaotic moments of a busy modern life, you can give yourself a hurricane force storm of chaos that is difficult to move through. Reach a hand out, grab a lifeline, and allow others to help you out. Have confidence in them, have faith in yourself, and take on only the things that you know you can handle every day.

Don’t forget to smile! What smiling does is it forces the mind to look at something in a different way. It’s not one of those ridiculous fake smiles that you see plastered on everyone’s stressed-out faces at the office I’m talking about here. No – a genuine smile that reflects the fact that there is a silver lining in even the darkest of clouds that could be drenching you right now, making you trudge through mud puddles!

If you are willing to make these 4 potential changes to your daily routine, then no matter how chaotic your environment may become, there will always be a tranquil place for you to go. Finding contentment in even the busiest of lives really is possible!