Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better
Alexa Z Cunningham
Top 10 Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better Episodes
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EP31 Stop Latching on to that Useless Story You Created and Get Back to Life
Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better
06/23/20 • 13 min
In this episode, I will shed some light on how meditation can help us stop latching on to stories in our minds that limit our abilities and, ultimately, our success. Are you going back to work, are you still quarantined, are you ready for your kids to get out of zoom class and start living a healthy life? But are you scared? We know the immediate future is far from normal, but with a daily dose of peaceful gumption, you can do it. Hold tight, and let's figure this out, ok?
Hey there, Alexa Z here, and I am back to work. Not only teaching meditation, but my spa is open, and I am massaging and meditating my way out of a pothole—a big pothole. This hole is big enough that I can barely see daylight, and it smells a bit like I have been in it too long. This pothole holds some miserable stories. Stories like:
I may go broke, trying to get the business up and running.
I am working my ass off and will continue to lose money until we go bankrupt.
I have injuries that I am ignoring, so I will probably need spinal fusion soon.
My employees won't come back.
My husband is going to start to hate me because all I do is work.
I spend the rest of my life working a job I am not sure I have passion for anymore.
Now here is the truth. There is financial distress and hard work ahead, and I need to stay healthy and avoid injury. That is about the extent of the truth in those stories. The rest is made up of exaggerated, bullshit excuses for why I might fail or why my life sucks. What are your stories? I am sorry to say this, but we all have stories filled with sorrow, despair, illness, and sadly even death.
So how is that working for you? I love hearing people's stories, and I love that I can help people through using meditation to sort stuff out, get out of the head and into the heart, blah blah blah. But, I must tell you the truth, I was beginning to get tired of people's stories. I hear young and old people cry and moan over how hard their lives are now that they have to go back to work in this awful life where we have to wear a mask and all I can think is "holy crap you have never experienced hardship have you?" You have a job, and you can perform it? Lucky you. I want to say, "shut the hell up and stop complaining you entitled, lazy little shit." And this is where I said to myself ENOUGH. You don't mean any of that, that is not you, you feel for these people, and you want to help, but you can't even get out of your way because I have become a little selfish shit.
Meditation - calm down, observe your thoughts, let them pass, do not latch on to them. 75,000 thoughts, most mundane, and the ones in the pothole are NOT the ones I want to spend time with. So why do I latch onto them? Because it's easy. It takes no effort to be carried away by a distraction. It just happens to be a shitty distraction.
Lately, my personal practice has surrounded thoughts and letting go, and right now, that is so hard! But every morning I do it like a soldier on a mission. Sit, let go of thoughts, be aware of them, don't get hung up on how many are floating by, and don't get angry they negative thoughts. Just permit yourself for even 5 minutes to let go and hang out. Be with yourself and watch them float by like clouds. By letting go, you gain freedom, and this freedom can last the whole day—the freedom to guide your body mind and spirit to the right place.
This place in your mind is one of peace, productivity, and positivity.
Use your mind to choose where you put your attention and energy. Start small, find the courage to let yourself start over every day like it was a new day because it is a new day, and if you aren't present for it, then it is just another day gone lost not found.
If you are meditating, don't stop, actually do a bit more. If you haven't started, what is stopping you?
You know this is a meditation motivation podcast, so I know you want to learn. If you are stuck, go to my website at www.alexazmeditates.com and click on a free consult. No strings attached, I do like to help.
EP 30 Stop Surviving and Start Thriving – A Meditator’s look into what you might have missed in the middle of this COVID Pandemic
Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better
05/28/20 • 18 min
In today's episode, I am going to address a topic that might make you feel a bit uncomfortable. I like to call it, "Well, what the heck am I going to do now?" There is no way around it, life is going to look different soon, and like me, you may be rethinking life a bit. If you are working, maybe it doesn't feel right; if you are not working, perhaps you don't want to go back to the job you were in, or you want the way you live your daily life to look a bit different. How does meditation help you dig through all of this muck? There are many ways, and without meditation, I may be sitting here crying instead of plotting about how I can thrive and not just survive. No meditation won't solve all of your problems, but it may help a lot more than you think.
Hey there, Alexa Z here. It's been a while since I sat down to write a podcast. One month and a few weeks to be not exact, and I was not happy about the break. Truthfully, I was pissed at myself because I vowed for one year not to miss a week, and well, crap happened. My husband told me I should stop being so hard on myself. My Coach told me not to write until it was in me to write. Well here we are and it feels great! On March 16th my Spa closed due to COVID, my twenty employees were temporarily laid off and blah blah blah, life changed. The worst part is that at this moment I have NO idea what comes next. I know that we will reopen one day, but I don't know what day or even if clients will come back, but I can't just give up, right? Well, I guess I could, but according to my inner compass, that is not an option.
The inner compass, you ask? You know that part of you deep inside that knows the answer to just about everything. But you thought you just heard me say that I have no idea what will happen, so how can my inner self know the answer. Well, the quieter I become, the more it speaks to me. I have responsibilities to my family, my creditors, and my employees, I can't just rollover. But I can start imagining, without fear, but with a more playful attitude. What could change? Big things, little things, something I can control in a world that appears to be taking away all of my control?
Did you ever hear a friend say, "just put it out to the universe, the answer will come." I am here to say that it is a total bunch of BS unless you give the universe a bit of help. Don't be lazy, keep moving, drink from the fire hose of life, and see what new flavor may be in store for you.
Or perhaps George Bernard Shaw put it more eloquently, "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."
What have you learned during this quarantine? Or what have you learned by deciding not to learn? The easiest way to describe something is through a story, and mine is the one I know best, so maybe you can relate. I started thinking about another career, yup, because CPA, Massage Therapist, Spa Owner, Meditation Teacher wasn't quite enough right now. I was a bit forced since once we reopen, my paycheck will probably stay in the uncashed pile for quite a while. However, that wasn't really why. The real reason was I had the time to think about what I was missing in life, and I was shocked to find that I missed using my old brain. The part of my mind that used to crunch numbers and keep finances all nice and tidy for people. Now, wait, this isn't all about work and money; it's about how you want to spend your time.
PS - I am writing this from Maine, where my husband and I now realize that we want to grow old someday. See personal stuff for me, too, not all biz. But that will be another episode!
Take a moment and close your eyes, take a long, slow inhale, and a slow complete exhale. Do it two more times. Now breathe normally and bring to mind an experience or better yet a feeling that made you feel great, or perhaps made you say ah-ha, I forgot how good that felt. Once the world is back to the new normal, will these experiences/feelings end? Maybe, that is up to you.
Back to my story, which yes, is connected to work, but it is relating to my ah-ha.
Once we were mandated to close, I had to apply for disaster relief loans, grants, and anything else I could find, even before I understood it all. You can't let the grass grow under your feet in times like this. Get the money fast before it is gone. Then get it and wonder what to do with it, possibly give it back. The funniest thing was, I found myself enjoying applying for them. I enjoyed reading all the rules that changed every day, and it didn't even make me mad. I found the whole process quite fascinating. I loved explaining it to other small businesses. Then I would go back to the reality that I was filling them out for MY business that after 17 years might fail, and then I would cry a lot. Come on; this isn't all rainbows and unicorns.
How to stop crying and forge ahead with a clear mind and an open heart? Medi...
EP29 Learn to Mindfully Say No and Turn FOMO into JOMO
Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better
04/09/20 • 13 min
We live in a society where social media is steering our subconscious. Driving us towards what we think we should be doing, and often that has nothing to do with what we want to be doing. Everyone on Instagram is playing at the beach because the thermometer has barely hit 65 (although it's only the beginning of March, and it should be snowing. You think, oh my god, I better get outside and enjoy this magnificent weather because, well, it may never come again. But in reality, you had a hectic week, you are exhausted, and you were looking forward to a fireplace and a book. So, turn up the air-conditioning, light a fire and get your darn book. Last I checked, you are in charge of your life.
In this episode, I am going to shed some light on the art and glory of saying no. Why does this have anything to do with meditation, you ask? Well, thanks for asking because it has heaps to do with it. And the answer comes from deep inside the most incredible work of art, which is you. However, this beautiful place seems to get often smothered underneath perhaps: lack of confidence, a desire to please, a fear of being judged, a need to be appreciated, a "Fear of Missing Out" (FOMO).
By the end of this brief episode, you are going to want to run out the door and say no to everything that does not fit the blueprint of the life you want to create. And this my friend creates, JOMO. The "Joy of Missing Out."
Hey there, Alexa Z here, and thank you for saying yes to listening to this podcast when you easily could have said no. And since it was easy, I ask that that you quickly hit subscribe to this to keep me going. Then at that time, a podcast drops; you will know about it and can easily say yes or no to listening! It's all up to you. No guilt!
How many times have you said yes to something and then lamented over why you said yes? So much so that you find yourself making up lies to get out of whatever you answered yes to and then living with the guilt of the lie. And 99% of the time, no one would care if you said no.
Just as fears are something we learn, saying yes to everything can become a learned habit. We are programmed starting from when we are very young that NO is an inappropriate or rude answer. Eat your broccoli, NO, share your toys, NO. It just isn't the right answer. But saying yes to things when you wanted to say no can cause so much angst. Why bother?
Think of a time you said yes instead of no and asked yourself why? Then ask it a few more times.
For example, my friends want to go to a concert in NYC, and I said yes, but I wish I said no.
- Why? Because I don't have enough money.
- But you really don't want them to know that.
- Why? Because I don't make as much money as they do.
- I don't want to be judged regarding my career choice.
- Why? Because I love my career, but they don't understand?
- Why? Because I feel like they will judge me.
- Why? Because all my life I have been judged, my mother always said I wasn't good enough.
Do you see where I am going with this? There are things deep inside us that keep us from listening to what sometimes can be a straightforward question. My executive coach taught me this "Yum or Yuck?"
Sometimes it is that easy, and here is where meditation can help.
Here is a true story: Wanting to be more vulnerable. Talk about the guy who didn't want to go on the golf trip. Meditation made him feel, clear, confident, and nonreactive, and he said NO and was so happy.
What about people who have restricted diets or maybe are on a diet?
Did you ever hear the comedian John Mulaney do the bit on canceling plans? It goes something like this:
"It's so much easier not to do things than to do things. It's 100% easier not to do things and so much fun not to do things, especially when you were supposed to do them.
In terms of instant relief canceling plans is like heroin - instant joy.
Kids don't like that - they say awwwwww we didn't do anything all day.
Did you ever as an adult what they did over the weekend, and they said they didn't do anything, and their face lights up!"
Although funny, this is pretty spot on. But it's hard. Meditation and mindfulness give us space to build our inner voice, our inner courage because it helps us be more comfortable being ourselves. For example, in a self-inquiry meditation, we ask ourselves a question such as "who am I" and be comfortable just sitting with the question without even answering it." We are building courage through listening to our inner wisdom and intuition.
There is nothing more satisfying then saying exactly what we want to say without question and without worrying about the outcome.
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
- Be impeccable with your word.
EP 28 Why the Best Time To Learn to Meditate is in the Middle of a Sh*t Storm
Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better
04/02/20 • 19 min
In this episode, I am going to explain why right now is the perfect time to learn to meditate, not when life is great, peaceful, and fairy lights are glowing around your lawn. If you are not sleeping, feeling stressed, totally unfocused, and perhaps a bit bitter, this is the podcast for you!
Hey There, Alexa Z here, I told my husband I am committed to never missing a podcast for at least 24 months, and I made it to week 27 and then fell off. It wasn't that I didn't have an episode to launch; it was that the topic no longer fit in this midst of this COVID-19 pandemic. Also, I own a small business, shout out to all small business owners. In 17 years, I never could have guessed that I would be applying for grants and praying to make it through along with my 20 employees. My thoughts are with all of you. I have spent two days reading through relief acts, but as soon as you finish one, the next one comes out, and sometimes they seem to contradict each other. What comes first, the chicken or the egg.
Now let's say you are not a small business owner, and perhaps you are laid off, and you're wondering what your company is doing about all of this? Independent worker, gig worker, sole proprietor, the list goes on. Now maybe you get to have your kids home 24/7 and don't want to blurt out "oh my god, am I maneuvering through online/home education properly? Or am I doing a disservice to my child? You didn't sign up for this.
I can't lie, when I see pictures of organized sock drawers, and completed 5000 piece jigsaw puzzles on social media; I want to scream. I think I am down to one pair of clean underwear. I stopped to write this on my way to the washing machine. But I am not mad, maybe a bit jealous. ACTUALLY, no, I am not. I like who I am and how I roll, and I think it is fantastic to take time; time is very precious, and it is a limited commodity. It is quite surprising that we are being given time and we get to chose what to do with it.
Time is limited and Attention is limited.
There are 24 hours in a day; you can not add another one. Where you put your attention is your choice. This podcast is about looking back over the past few weeks, looking forward a few weeks, and at this moment right now, what we call the present moment, deciding, is there any other way I would like to approach my life? Another puzzle, a basement organization, maybe, but how do you feel when you stop and reflect for a moment. What if all those tasks were done not to be distracted from the chaos but to be present amongst it all.
When we are fully present, then we are entirely paying attention, that other limited commodity.
My husband has been busy with projects and simultaneously listening to an online music theory class. Multi-tasking doesn't work except in his case, it is a rote task (say throwing out old papers) and listening to the course. Nice! He is very compassionate about his guitars, and I am happy to see him delve into learning. But he had seven days off and now is working 12 hours a day, and like anyone, I heard him say, where did those days go?
What are you learning? Many people appear to be doing remarkable things like online exercise and yoga classes, learning a new language, learning to cook fresh meals. It sounds like a lot of good stress relieving stuff going on, but in the midst of it all, I am still getting lots of calls. I AM SO STRESSED OUT, I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO, ALL I AM DOING IS CLEANING, I AM BORED AND SCARED, I HATE MY JOB, etc. When is your next free meditation? But guess what, those are the people that don't show up for the meditation.
Here is what I see happening. Avoidance, procrastination, and nonsensical reasoning. I need to learn to meditate, but I can't now I am too stressed out. Just sitting still in silence makes me crazy. I am here to tell you that this is the perfect time to learn to meditate.
Is it hard to meditate in times of high stress? Of course, but anything worth having can be a little tough at first. But with meditation, you can start right now, and the training will be so powerful. Not only can you immediately watch yourself change in a stressful environment, but you can take that skill, practice, one maybe two times a day, and when this is all over, you will have a tool that you can use for life. There is no way in hell that when this is all done, you will not need meditation. You needed it yesterday, and today and tomorrow and a year from now.
I love the fact that I am buried in stress and relief acts. Do I like stress? No, what I love is the fact that my endurance is endless. I may hit a wall, but I see the wall and walk away before it crushes me. I still get a decent night's sleep, and I wake up with a fresh attitude, and I get right back in the ring. Meditation has made me not only healthier but courageous. If I approach this virus bitterly and fulls of sarcasm, then I might as well roll over and pee on my...
EP27: March Un-Madness Week 2 - It's 2 am, and Yet Again, I am Wide Awake!
Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better
03/16/20 • 18 min
In today's episode, we will explore Mindful Sleep. As we age, our sleep patterns change, and those changes can be downright unpleasant. Even if you're a young buck who sleeps poorly, this episode is for you too! There are a few ways to look at these exhausting annoyances and some mindful methods to improve them. We know meditation can improve sleep, but what happens as we age and how can our meditation practice can help us at 2 am when we were staring at the ceiling trying to solve world peace and figure out if the light really does go out in our refrigerator when we close the door.
Sleep is a critical part of our health. Please don't say, "oh well, I am just getting older. I will just nap more." NO, NO, NO, life is too short to sleep through, and during those waking hours, you want to feel like a spring chicken.
Hey There, Alexa Z here, and it is week 2 of March Un-Madness! Please remember, as we talk about how fantastic meditation and mindfulness is, if you need help learning and sticking to these practices, I am always here to help. I have a class launching in April. If you are interested, go to www.alexazmeditates.com/help, and I will let you know all about it. Now, let's dig right into the topic of sleep. I will split into three pieces.
- What meditation does for sleep.
- What happens to our sleep as we age?
- What can you do to set yourself up for a better night's rest before, during, and after sleep?
Yes, this means you need to listen until the end to get the tips to use tonight. Sorry, but we must go through one and two to understand three. Don't worry; the podcast is short.
Meditation and Sleep
In episode 6, I talked about all the reasons why sleep is essential and how sleep is the number one way to reduce stress (go ahead back and give it a listen if you missed it). As a quick review, sleep is fantastic, but no one seems to get the right amount and quality of sleep to wash out all the stress, then stress begins to build up. Exercise is fantastic, but it only gets rid of current stress, it tends not to attack all of the past stresses. Meditation, on the other hand, does two amazing things (well many but here are the top ones for today,) it helps get rid of current AND past stress and the practice builds your sleep muscles.
In the perfect world, we would glide through non REM, and REM brain wave sleep like this: Beta – awake and aware, Alpha – gentle bridge to sleep, Theta going deeper into dreamy land and Delta the most restorative waves of all. We need that gentle cycle about every 90 minutes, but that isn't always the case, hence why sometimes you sleep eight hours and wake up still tired!
The Alpha waves are very low in today's crazy world, and meditation helps to strengthen them!
Meditation mimics good sleep. We meditate our way through Beta, Alpha, and Theta, and if that isn't cool enough, try Yoga Nidra and get down into those Delta waves (listen to episode 8 on Nidra or go to my website and try the free one on the home page.)
What Happens as We Age?
Ok, I am the queen of simple, so let's see if I can stay the queen. What most of us find is that as we get older:
- Sleep patterns change.
- It is harder to fall asleep.
- You have to pee more.
- Your joints hurt.
- Caffeine can have more of an effect on you.
- Sleep Apnea
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- And other body issues or illnesses.
- You wake up more often because you spend less time in a deep sleep.
- Your neurological receptors begin to weaken
- These receptors connect with your sleep chemicals, making it harder for your brain to figure out when you are tired and when you are supposed to be awake.
Now at this point, you are probably getting depressed and tired and want to take a nap. But wait, even naps don't feel as good anymore. Plus, the more you nap, the harder it is to get to sleep at night. It becomes a vicious circle.
Another reminder: Meditation helps your health, your brain waves, your pain tolerance, your immune system, your circadian rhythms, etc.
Using Mindfulness to Get You to Sleep
(or perhaps back to sleep!)
As you continue your Meditation practice and keep building those strong brain muscles, shifting around grey and white matter in your brain, lowering your stress levels, etc. What kind of mindfulness can you practice starting tonight at two or three am?
- First, start with a better pre-sleep routine. From figuring out your natural sleep cycle to uncluttering your bedroom, to changing up your activities and screen time. You can get a list from my sleep episode freebie at www.alexazmeditates.com/sleep which also includes a meditation to help you get to sleep
- Before bed, take a m...
EP26 - March Un-Madness- Week 1 - Mindful Communication
Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better
03/09/20 • 11 min
We work hard to develop a meditation and mindfulness practice, but where do you see the benefits playing out? If you don't see benefits, then you won't keep practicing. If you limit your interests to just one thing, then you are missing the magic of the practice. It's ok if you are practicing for symptom relief, but I want more for you. I hope the symptoms pass, but don't ignore the rest of the magic. Each week for the remainder of March, I will pick one topic to deep dive and give you a bit of homework, or shall I say a direction to follow for the week.
In today's episode, I am going to concentrate on a topic that is critical to your relationships, happiness, good decision making, and many other positive aspects of your wellbeing. This giant elephant is called communication. You may think you are already great at it, but I guarantee you can always be better, and you can always use your skills to help others better communicators.
If over four weeks I can get you to notice four separate things that make a difference in your life, then you will be four weeks closer to you never wanting to miss a day of meditation and mindfulness again!
This morning I met a man who, when he found out I teach meditation he said: "I try to meditate, but after a week I seem to lose my steam, I start feeling calmer, and then I forget to do it." If I had a dollar for every person that said that to me, I would be a millionaire. We started discussing other aspects of life that can change by being more mindful and communication popped into my mind because that was precisely what I found the two of us doing well, talking! We had never met, he spoke, I listened with my full attention and then he spoke and did the same. Sounds pretty mundane right? Well, it isn't. Most people are horrible communicators.
We speak, wanting to be heard and get irritated when we don't think we are being listened to. We think of our response before the other person has even finished their sentence, and eye contact seems to be a thing of the past. TV on behind the person? Phone text going off? Maybe you're slowly even walking away while listening or looking at the clock? You know I am right.
Where does mindfulness come into play? Our meditation strengthens our muscles of focus, awareness, and compassion. Now let's use that muscle to pay attention this week to our actions in the realm of listening.
- Listen – I mean really listen. Make a choice right now to listen to someone today. Hell, pick one person or one time. Start small. I don't care.
- Be Fully Present– this is a big one. You chose to listen, now commit to the activity. Put all else aside, no mind wandering, no multi-tasking. We want to prove we can do it and see the benefits of what excellent communication can do, and a bonus is that you will get more done because you will probably have only ONE conversation with an actual outcome, and you can move on! Each time you notice your mind wandering, bring your attention to your breath. Just observe your breath for even a second, and you will ground yourself back in the conversation.
- Stop Judging- Amid a world of racial bias that appears to be recently exacerbated by the Corona Virus, I think this is super important. How often do you get a call or have an employee walk in, and immediately you think, "oh, not this again or geez this person is clueless? It's not right, right? But we still do it. This week, drop the judgment toward the person you are communicating with AND toward yourself. Just be nice, super-duper, uber generous and nice. That's another added benefit of mindfulness. It makes you a nicer person!
- Reacting – Since you are now choosing to listen, be present and not judge, take a little time to notice if you are reacting. Let's go real slow. Significant others wants you to do the dishes because you are pretty darn pig-like and never do the dishes, a fact not judgment. As they are requesting your assistance, notice if you are already reacting in your brain. I worked all day, I am exhausted, and we have a deal, I don't do dishes. STOP, notice you are reacting and really listen. See if you hear something that you haven't heard before. Just chill out and continue with steps one through three. See what happens. Open up and see the conversation with a wide-angle lens!
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
Try this exercise once a day, even if it is when the barista is giving you your coffee.
If you want to try a more formal practice, you can do one that I have learned many times in the corporate world. From 20 years ago to 20 minutes ago, this one is very common but very profound.
Pick someone to practice with and choose a time limit, say 2 minutes.
One person talks (I don't care about what), and the other listens without interrupting, leading the conversation, no questions, no influence: Max – a head nod....
EP25: ADD and Anxiety in the Youth an Interview with Katie Tolley
Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better
03/02/20 • 30 min
In today's episode, we will be discussing a very important topic that is near and dear to me, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and anxiety in our youth. I am lucky enough to have Katie Tolley back on the show. Katie was part of Episode 19: What is Integrative Health? Katie Tolley is part of the team at Turning Point Health Center, which has offices in Annapolis and Columbia, Maryland. She also runs a health and wellness consulting business, KT Consulting. Katie is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and child and adolescent mental health specialist. What makes this all even more amazing is that she started learning much more about nutrition and integrative medicine just before her son was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of eight. Get ready for a fascinating and informative discussion with Katie!
Hey there! Welcome to the Alexa Z show! I am so excited to have Katie here today! The topic today is ADD, anxiety in the youth. I am excited but also a little anxious to discuss this topic because my youth was filled with anxiety. Also, many of my clients have children who also suffer from anxiety.
Alexa: Can you explain the difference between ADD and ADHD?
Katie: This topic is so widely talked about, but it is still very misunderstood. I shared an article with some friends yesterday about the aspects of ADD and ADHD and how it affects children. Every day there is another question or another topic that relates to ADD and ADHD in children.
So, to answer your question, on ADD, ADHD, and anxiety, how are they the same and how are they different.
ADD- Attention Deficit Disorder.
ADHD- Attention Deficit Hyper-activity Disorder
Diagnostically, we refer to all as ADHD with or without hyperactivity. The difference can be as simple as whether the child displays hyperactivity or not. When we do not see the outward hyperactivity (fidgeting, doodling, inability to sit still), the child is suppressing/internalizing the hyperactivity. Also, outward hyperactivity can turn into inward anxiety.
Alexa: Even if somebody had ADHD, it doesn't matter. The most important thing is that we are discussing ADD today. So, there are anxieties that are not ADD.
Katie: Absolutely! The everyday life of a modern-day teen can cause anxiety. There is a lot of pressure to get good grades, perform well in sports, perform in extra-curricular activities, get into college, and sometimes to have a job. All of the pressures cause these kids a lot of worries. Screen-time, diet, and sleep also play a huge role in anxiety in our youth. Often, anxiety is misdiagnosed as ADD.
Alexa: As a parent, how do you know that something is going on with your child? How can parents identify there is something serious going on versus regular daily stresses?
Katie: Some kids do just put pressure on themselves. It is normal for a three-year-old not to pay attention and to have difficulty focusing. When the inability to focus or pay attention interferes with daily living, such as the ability to learn, the ability to nourish themselves, the ability to get ready to do an activity, sports, or church, that is when it becomes a serious issue. The symptoms such as fidgeting, inability to focus, or distractability become interferences in the accomplishment of being a successful human being; this is when we enter the diagnostic level.
Alexa: What is the root cause of ADD and anxiety? Where does it come from?
Katie: Do we all have a little bit of ADHD? I say absolutely. Let's use a scale of 1 to 10 to determine our levels of ADHD. Many of us walk around the world at the level of 2 or 3 simply because of screens, jobs, and schedules; it is easy to be distracted because our minds are thinking of multiple things at once. Multitasking is a perfect example of ADHD. You try to go from one thing to another, but you get distracted. Multitasking can be a little difficult.
Alexa: For more on this, listen to my podcast episode on multitasking.
Katie: The root cause can be the inflammatory process
- systemic inflammation,
- Inflammation from:
- different environmental sources,
- inflammation caused by
When the inflammation affects the brain, it is called neuroinflammation. When we see symptoms similar to ADHD, anxiety, ADD, we sometimes wonder if it is ADHD, anxiety, ADD, or are these symptoms telling us about something else.
Alexa: What are some components of inflammation? From the standpoint of ADD, what kind of inflammation are we talking about?
Katie: Inflammation in the brain can surface as
- hard to concentrate
- focused attention
- memory issues
It is vital to address neuro-inflammation in our youth because it will lead to disease processes as the...
EP24: Demystifying Meditation with Sarah McLean
Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better
02/24/20 • 42 min
In today’s episode, with the help of Sarah McLean, the owner of the McLean Meditation Institute, my personal teacher, and a woman with an unusual and exciting background, we will demystify meditation. There are so many brands and types of meditation out there; it can be downright confusing. The important thing is to understand a bit, not make it too hard, and, most importantly, do not delay your practice! Without practice, you are missing all the amazing benefits of meditation.
Sarah’s joining us from Santa Barbara, California, and will tell you her journey to demystify meditation. She will tell you tales of her time in the Army, in an ashram in India, and travels on a nine-month mountain bike trek through faraway lands. She will touch on many experiences from Transcendental Meditation, working with Deepak Chopra to ah-ha moments on a rooftop in Georgetown, DC. She did all the work, and we all benefit from her discoveries.
On last week’s show, we talked about three things to make your meditation a slam dunk: desire, focus, and a nonjudgmental attitude (which I learned long ago from Sarah herself.) This episode is perfect timing because Sarah will take those three things and go deeper as she unravels the mysteries of meditation.
My suggestion is to listen intently but listen gently, like the awareness of breath in meditation. You know you are breathing but get lost in the beauty of its simplicity. Do not control or change; just follow and enjoy.
Hey there, Alexa Z here! I am so excited and a little nervous because I have Sarah McLean, my meditation teacher, on the line. She is kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to help me, help you demystify meditation, specifically the different types/brands of meditation.
I found Sarah after many years of meditating. I started meditating when I was 17 years old because I had terrible panic attacks. Meditation was a pill for me. I wish I could go back and start again; I would because now I know all the opportunities meditation has provided me, and I would have had a more consistent practice from the start.
Alexa: I want to welcome Sarah! Again, I am a little nervous and excited. This will be a fun back and forth conversation. I am also a bit jealous because I know you are in Santa Barbara, California, and the weather is a lot nicer than the rain, drizzle, and cold here in Annapolis, Maryland.
Sarah: Well, it is a bit like heaven on earth, sorry to make you jealous. Maybe we can practice Mudita, which is sympathetic joy, I hope you can feel happy for me, that I get to live in Santa Barbara after trying to convince my husband to move here for 17 years. It's great to be here, and Maryland is not too shabby.
Alexa: No, it isn't, and knowing that I can visit and take more classes at your new meditation center with you in Santa Barbara, makes me super happy. So let's, get right into it. Let's demystify meditation. The reason why this came to mind is that my students, clients, and even strangers come to me and say they have been studying meditation but have not started their practice. Typically, they say they are waiting for a particular time in there life to begin meditating or that they need to continue to learn about meditation before starting a practice. Sarah, what do you think about all of this. Why is it so confusing?
Sarah: There are so many different types, categories of meditation
- Formal and informal
- Religious, historical origin
- Different names in other languages
- Brand new/Brand names
I'll share a little bit about my story and how I got into meditation. More importantly, how I realized I did not know anything about meditation.
Alexa: Oh, that's perfect!
Sarah: When I was younger, I was in the military. I wanted to be a spy, but that didn't work out. I wanted to understand the mysteries of life. I did not become a spy; instead, I became a behavioral specialist; that's when I started to learn the mysteries of the mind. I worked with Soldiers who suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD). Back then, we used medication versus meditation. Luckily for me, I was introduced to a body awareness practice. I was sitting outside of a psychiatric hospital, where, unfortunately, that's where many Soldiers who were really suffering would end up. Our whole platoon was sitting out on the lawn when one of the male nurses introduced me to a body scan. He had us all laydown, and he guided us from our head to our toes, allowing us to relax. It was only about 10 minutes. In the end, I realized that I worked with very stressed Soldiers, and I didn't even realize the amount of stress I was carrying. That moment planted a seed in me. After I got out of the Army, I looked into contemplative practices. I spent a lot of time exploring world traditions, look...
EP 23: Three Things to Make Meditation a Slam Dunk
Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better
02/16/20 • 19 min
In today's episode, I am going to discuss three things to make your meditation a slam dunk. By slam dunk I mean a practice that is simple, effective and best of all YOU WILL STICK TO IT! There are many methods, brands and apps, and apps for your apps, but today let's get back to the basics. Let's get back to the why and the how and get your practice on the tracks headed to the destination of your choice. You can study until you are old and gray, but the practice does not work unless you practice! Meditation is a training, and after years of teaching and watching students stop and start, get excited and sometimes frustrated, I think I have found the secret sauce to success.
Whether you are just starting out, you keep starting and stopping or have started but don't feel like the results are robust enough to keep you coming back, well hold on. I will layout a simple plan that will help you to that magical destination. One where you can find peace clarity, compassion, courage, and your inner badass.
Now get ready, hit subscribe, smile, get a beverage, and I will right back. You don't want to miss this.
Hey There, Alexa Z here with my favorite three things that can make your meditation practice a slam dunk.
First, my suggestion is for you to listen to this podcast until the end; no note-taking necessary. Please hear me out, listen and, more importantly, feel what I am trying to get at. In the end, I will give you a link where you can print out a few fun things to use to make these three elements of my secret sauce all your own.
When I first began to teach meditation formally, I always remembered my teacher Sarah McLean saying all you need to meditate are three things: a desire, a focus, and a nonjudgmental attitude. This made sense to me and I have repeated it at least 10,000 times over the years. However, of late, I have found a way to expand on all three of these. Right from the get-go, to help make your practice very personal because you are unique and your needs are individual. One size does not fit all.
In my first one on one session with a client, we go through the following exercise, and it tends to shed light on why the person wanted to learn to meditate, to begin with. I also help map out how on earth this practice is going to fit into their life efficiently and effectively. And most importantly, add an extra dose of accountability.
Let's Dive In
NUMBER ONE: Why Are You Meditating?
Desire: Before you take on something new most likely you have a desire, even if that desire was nudged on from someone like perhaps your doctor telling you have to lower your blood pressure. Or maybe the urge came from a place deep within like the desire to have less stress and more peace in your life. Or possibly to improve something like memory, your sleep, focus, or creativity. Or maybe to change a habit like quitting smoking or alcohol or improving your diet. This is where I get people to dive deeper.
The best way I can do this is through my own example:
- Panic attacks - I had them and I needed them to stop!
If I really had someone walk me through this, which later came through a lot of soul searching and a lot of counseling, I would have discovered
- Low self-esteem
- Poor body image
- Fears (financial, abandonment)
What are all of the reasons you want to meditate? If it is just one, I ask you to dig a little deeper. In my freebie at the end, you will be given a one-page worksheet to get you to develop the full story. I want you to tuck that completed page away and pull it out every time you think you don't want to practice or when you are wondering if anything is starting to shift. It is all connected!
NUMBER TWO: Start Simple and Stick to It!
Focus – As I said when I opened the show, you can learn many methods of meditation, mainly a type of focused concentration (think zooming in) or open awareness (wide-angle lens). The second type should come after the first type, a bit more advanced and there is no prize if you go to open awareness first. You don't go to hot, challenging yoga vinyasa flow level three if you have learned the basics first. Well you can but you will become frustrated and most likely will hurt yourself.
With that being said, I am going to make a recommendation. Start with body and breath awareness and do it every day for a bit. It is incredibly useful and how relaxing does it sound to know that you can sit down without having to make a decision on what to try today. It was like when I decided to wear jeans and white button-downs every day. It was as though life gave me a giant gift, mainly of time. And thankfully, I own 9 white button-downs. Back to Meditation. Body and breath awareness. I have people still doing this simple but profound practice year after year.
To help you start or get back on track, I will give you a 10-minute bo...
EP:32 Making Courageous Decisions and Feeling Strong About it
Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better
08/06/20 • 10 min
This episode of The Alexa Z Show discusses the relationship of courageous decisions and meditation. Alexa begins by acknowledging the rapid changes everyone is dealing with and how to show up with the clearest mind to take action.
She also shares her own thoughts about selfishness and giving up and her determination to make the best decisions that affect herself, her business, and all the people whose lives she touches. Alexa also discusses how the stillness of meditation provides the clarity you need to make sincere and courageous decisions.
00:43 "Any change can be scary. But with the help of a clear head and an open heart, meditation can help you unlock the courage to do just about anything."
02:08 "If you're not healthy, clear, and in touch with your inner self, then the quality of your actions is definitely going to suffer."
03:13 "Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, and skillful execution. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives." - WillIam A. Foster
06:43 "If you can take explicit action, or at least hope your action is explicit, then whatever the consequences are—good, bad, or indifferent—you can deal with it."
08:01 "You sit and be quiet. The insight will be more insightful and that piece of your body that you are giving restful time and peace, it will give you also that clear, peaceful mind and the courage to make sincere, clear, and intelligent decisions."
01:34 Dealing with change & showing up the best you can be
05:38 Doing what's best for you & the dealing with the guilt that comes with it
07:06 Taking care of yourself first
How many episodes does Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better have?
Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better currently has 41 episodes available.
What topics does Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better cover?
The podcast is about Meditation, Health & Fitness, Stress, Parenting, Sleep, Management, Entrepreneur, Mental Health, How To, Mentalhealth, Moms, Podcasts, Education, Relationships, Communication and Mindfulness.
What is the most popular episode on Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better?
The episode title 'EP31 Stop Latching on to that Useless Story You Created and Get Back to Life' is the most popular.
What is the average episode length on Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better?
The average episode length on Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better is 18 minutes.
How often are episodes of Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better released?
Episodes of Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better are typically released every 7 days.
When was the first episode of Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better?
The first episode of Alexa Z Meditates - Your Life, But Better was released on Sep 13, 2019.
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