Creating an altar is a great way to intentionally create sacred space in your home. Altars are intended to act as a catalyst for shifting thoughts and energy from a lower vibration reality to the higher vibrations of the spiritual realm. There is no specific blueprint for constructing an altar. I have several altars in my home and one on my desk at work to help balance out unseen electromagnetic energy created by computers, cell phones and wireless frequencies that can affect your physiology.
The image of the altar above resides in my bedroom, right next to my bed. I sit up in bed and meditate every morning and the items that I have selected for my altar space help me feel more present to all that is divine. The scarf is a souvenir from a spiritual sabbatical and it reminds me of a special time in my life. The statue of the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi reminds me to be abundant and prosperous in all that I do as her name literally means “goal”. Her lotus seat reminds me that I should enjoy living in this world but not become obsessed with it. Her four hands represent the four ends of human life: dharma (righteousness), karma (genuine desires), artha (wealth), and moksha (emotional freedom). She also reminds me to be beautiful, generous and graceful in thought, word and deed.
You can create your own special altar in your home by following these steps:
1. Select a place for your altar. Select a space that you will see regularly to remind you of all the things that you love and honor.
2. Select items to place on you altar. Select items from nature, sacred images, books, statues, candles, bells, pictures of love ones or anything that resonates with you. Change it up when you feel that you have achieved a goal or when inspiration sparks.
3. Dedicate your altar to a goal or intention and meditate or pray near it whenever you can. This will elevate the energy of items that you have assembled and the entire space in general.
It has been said that when we create an altar we recollect the scattered pieces of ourselves. No matter what you choose to place on your altar, make it your own.
Happy Weekend Spiritual Warriors!
We're closing our month long series on Stepping Into POWER by facing our FEAR head on! Let's turn our attention away from the paralyzation of fear and lean towards the power of gratitude. Gratitude for who we are, all that we've accomplished, the beautiful mysteries of life and all that's yet to come.
Enjoy your weekend!.
Peace. - davidji
NYU Steinhardt Research: Yoga Boosts Socialization, Mind-Body Connection, and Focus Among Autistic Students
October 10, 2012
Step one: Mats out. Step two: breathe deep. Step three: assume poses. Step four: tense and relax muscles. Step five: sing.
According to a study by NYU Steinhardt researcher, Kristie Koenig, these five steps, 17 minutes a day, five days a week, for 16 weeks, resulted in a significant decrease in aggressive behavior, social withdrawal, and hyperactivity for Autistic students attending District 75’s P.S. 176X in the Bronx. The school serves the largest population of students on the Autism Spectrum in the nation.
“We found that teachers’ ratings of students who participated in the daily yoga routine showed improved behavior compared with teachers’ ratings of students who did not,” said Koenig, assistant professor of occupational therapy. “Our aim in this research was to examine the effectiveness of an occupational therapy yoga intervention. Our research indicates that a manualized systemic yoga program, implemented on a daily basis, can be brought to public school classrooms as an option for improving classroom behavior.”
“Get Ready to Learn,” (GRTL) the intervention program used in the study, was designed by occupational therapist and yoga instructor Anne Buckley-Reen in 2008, in collaboration with Barbara Joseph, District 75 deputy superintendent. District 75 is the nation’s largest special education district in an urban public school system. GRTL uses yoga postures, breathing, and relaxation techniques to help energize, organize and calm ASD students. It helps prepare students mentally and physically for the day’s lessons.
“GRTL gets children out of the stressed state and prepares their brains and bodies to learn,” Reen explained. “Children with Autism often exhibit characteristics of ‘fight-or-flight’ response. They are in a constant state of stress and struggle with staying calm, trying to concentrate, communicating clearly, or even controlling their movements. Many students with ASD and other challenges have missed critical developmental stages which impact body awareness and perception of self. How can we expect these students to connect to others, if they are not connected to themselves? GRTL provides opportunities to make and strengthen these mind-body connections.”
With GRTL training supported by both the district and participating school, teachers led the daily routine that includes eight minutes of varied postures, three minutes of weight-bearing poses, three minutes of deep breathing to help reduce stress, three minutes of muscle tension and release, and concludes with a circle of song.
“This circle of song creates a vibrating of the lungs which helps students to find their voice and contribute to classroom harmony,” said Reen. “We sing the name of the students in back and forth exchanges. This encourages engagement from all students, even those with limited speech.”
GRTL is currently being implemented in more than 500 classrooms in District 75 across the city of New York with students ages five through 21 with significant disabilities. It is also in typical classrooms in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont.
“This research points to new ways that can help students self-regulate their behavior for longer periods of time. This type of daily programming provides them with a foundation for function so they can focus and attend for longer periods of time. This is one way they are able to learn effectively,” said Joseph. “Programs like this can enhance communication and socialization skills. Parents have seen changes in their children at home. They tell us they have seen improvement in their children’s speech, communication, and behavior.”
The study, conducted by Koenig, Reen, and NYU Steinhardt doctoral student Satvika Garg, is titled “Efficacy of the Get Ready to Learn Yoga Program Among Children with ASD: A Pretest-Posttest Control Group Design.” It was recently published in the September/October 2012 issue of The American Journal of Occupational Therapy.
To learn more about the NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy, visit: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/ot/
About the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media, and psychology. Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School's mission has been to explore the human experience through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice. To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit: http://steinhardt.nyu.edu
Life is funny isn't it? It often doesn't work out the way we intend it to. We make our plans, and the universe laughs..
I recently watched a lovely movie called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - a film about British retirees who travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways. One of the best quotes from the move is "Everything will be all right in the end. So if it is not all right, then it is not yet the end". I love that! This single sentence gave me hope.
But sometimes when things don't go our way, we wall ourselves off from the world a bit (perhaps unintentionally). If the heart chakra is closed down, the very core of us suffers. Our breathing is shallow, slowing down our metabolism and our physical energy. Blocked at the center, we feel divided between mind and body. We pull in to ourselves, withdraw, and become a closed system.
When the heart chakra is open, we feel deeply. Love, compassion, centeredness and warmth towards others are all encouraged by an open heart center. When these feeling are intensified through meditation on heart center, we may experience any number of sensations, from ecstatic bliss to tears of joy. We might even shed a tear of sorrow as old hurts are released and are replaced with feelings of love and self acceptance.
Consider this for a moment.. Music is a language of emotion, and it can have a very powerful effect on the way we feel. Music almost always has the power to bring me out of a funk and back into the world.
In one of those rare and spontaneous gifts from the universe, I had the pleasure of meeting and working with, local artist and Producer Paul Avgerinos. He gifted me with a couple of his CD's - among them his latest album Lovers (available on ITunes and Amazon) and have practically been listening to it non-stop. What better way to open your heart than by listening to beautiful music!
The meditation that Doreen Virtue (author, and Hay House radio host) did at the end of her show last Wednesday is something that would be very helpful for all of us and for the world!! Her last radio show is so different than what she normally does. She talks about new info she is getting about Sirius, Indigos, star people, conspiracies and our government...... listen for yourself.
I found the following post by Sava Tang Alcantara, eHow Contributor to be very interesting and wanted to share it.
Puja is an Hindu form of ceremonial worship or ritual that honors one or several of the gods and goddesses in the Indian pantheon, as well as those who believe in a singular god. Puja is done as a form of bhakti yoga which means “devotion.” Puja can be done at home daily and also as a much more elaborate ceremony to ask for blessings or to ask for support to help a certain group of people. There are as many as twenty-seven separate steps for formal puja ceremonies that include offering water to symbolically bath the honored deity, offerings of sweets and fruits, and a light ritual called aarati wherein water is poured from one small vessel to another and a small bell might be rung. A very simplified and informal version can be done with sincerity that will convey your devotion and respect for this ritual and invite the blessings and guidance for which it is designed.
1 Begin by understanding that puja is a tradition that dates back thousands of years. If you are of Indian descent, puja is very likely a part of your cultural fabric and a familiar ritual you may have witnessed your father or other family member perform. Taking such specific rituals from one country and transplanting them to another country is entirely acceptable. However, the idea is to honor its gravity and spiritual importance. Do not disrespect this time-honored ritual. It is powerful and profound
2 Understand the basic elements of a puja. There is meditation on the divine (dhyana), practicing tapas (austerity in terms of an attitude of gravity), reading a religious or spiritual passage to encourage svadhyaya (self study) and several offerings of flowers, fruits and foods (thaal). Traditionally, people bow or kneel or even kiss the image of the Divine during a puja. At the end of the puja, people might affix a vermilion dot on their forehead between the eyebrows, the site of the anja chakra or the third-eye center.
3 Gather the basic components to perform a puja. Start with a small table or mantel upon which you can spread a white cloth. Place an image or representation of the deities or gods or God to whom you are offering this puja on your altar. It can be a small figurine or a small painting or other image.Traditionally, two lamps made of cotton wicks are set in oil or ghee (butter with the milk fats removed). These are not lit until the actual start of the puja. These symbolize the light shining within yourself and that inside the deity you are honoring.
4 Set up a small plate made of some kind of metal, stainless steel or silver and place on it several small thimbles of water for your aarati, turmeric, sandalwood paste, vermilion (called kum kum) and a dozen sticks of incense (these represent our worldly desires—that can be burned).
5 Prepare a second plate by filling it with fruits and several flowers and decorative leaves. The fruits represent self-sacrifice and detachment (which is offered in this ritual). Set up a small container of raw, unbroken rice in which turmeric has been mixed and not cooked. Called akshata, it is an offering.Prepare several small quantities of sweets and other foods that are covered. A white cloth to symbolize the male is set on this “altar” and a more colorful cloth to symbolize the female.
6 Select a deity, or god that is the focus of this puja. To whom are you offering these fruits and asking for blessings? Select a mantra or prayer or religious or spiritual passage that is appropriate for the intention of your puja. Your puja may be one of seeking protection, seeking guidance, or expressing gratitude.
7 Clear the immediate area of any distractions such as loud music or ringing phones. Set your intention mentally by visualizing in your mind’s eye the form of the deity or gods that you are offering this puja to.
8 Light the candles and say the mantra or prayer or in your own words state the purpose of your puja: blessings, expressing thanks or seeking guidance. Offer the fruits and flowers and set them near the image or picture on your altar. Light the incense sticks to represent you are burning your worldly desires and detaching from them.
9 Repeat the religious or spiritual passage you selected, adding what your intentions are: to bless a certain group of people or to seek specific guidance.Close your eyes for several moments of silence and affix the vermilion mark on your forehead (tilaka) using a small “wand” that is dipped into sandalwood paste and then a red-colored powder. If this is not your custom, you do not have to do this.
Read more: How to Do Puja | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_4525140_do-puja.html#ixzz1xVRCJCeD
Fortunately, spending the holidays with my family does not create stress for me, but traveling to see them does. After 2 flights, almost a full day in the Newark airport, and at least a 5 mile walk of the Atlanta airport schlepping all of my stuff, I arrived exhausted and in serious need of a hot shower and a long meditation.
For those of you that are feeling stressed by the holiday season and are in need of some mental refreshment here are 8 easy steps to finding a meditative state. Belly surfing on the couch in a food coma does not count..
1. Sit comfortably where you will not be disturbed and close your eyes.
2. For a few minutes simply observe the inflow and outflow of your breath.
3. Take a slow deep breath through your nose while thinking the word So.
4. Exhale slowly through your nose while thinking the word Hum.
5. Allow your breathing to flow easily, silently repeating, So.... Hum.... with each inflow and outflow of breath.
6. Whenever your attention drifts to thoughts in your mind, sounds in your environment, or sensations in your body, gently return to your breath silently repeating, So... Hum.
7. Continue the process for a long as you can- up to 30 minutes with as much effortless ease as possible.
8. When the time is up, sit with your eyes closed for a couple of minutes before resuming your holiday activities..
Happy Thanksgiving. Namaste.