I have never witnessed so many cataclysmic events during my lifetime. The number of natural disasters affecting the world is unprecedented. There is an effective all natural treatment for stress, grief, and suffering  that I will share at the end of this blog. Our companion animals can show us the way.

I live in the great Northwest and we are having epic forest fires creating hazardous air quality. There is the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Irma in the Caribbean, Florida and other Southern states. There is the largest earthquake in a century that struck Mexico and floods in Asia. Not to mention the constant political rancor in America, war against ISIL and the threat of nuclear war with North Korea. The list of cataclysmic events happening around the world goes on and on…

What can an individual do to help cope with these cataclysmic events? First, for those that are in physical proximity or have the financial resources to help should do so. Those in the path of these natural disasters need as many volunteers and financial resources as possible.

Aside from physical and financial assistance, everyone can perform a safe, ancient practice accepted by all traditions. This practice has numerous health benefits including promoting neurogenesis and brain health, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, lowering cortisol and inflammation. In as little as 5 minutes per day this simple technique can bring many profound healing benefits. This meditation technique is loving-kindness meditation or Metta practice. Practicing this meditation technique not only will produce profound health benefits it will reduce stress and engender a vacation state of mind. I will give you step-by-step instructions at the end of this blog.

In my last 2 blogs I discussed principles Number One: Live Your Truth and Number Two: One Presence & One Power that engender profound stress reduction and help create a vacation state of mind. This blog is 3 of 5 in that series and will focus on the nuts and bolts of Principle Number Three: Meditation Medication.

This is the best kept secret in modern medicine. It's free, you can do it anytime and anywhere. You need not go to the Himalayan mountains. It is free of side effects, and you can practice 8 million times per year! Take one deep conscious breath in and out. Congratulations, that was your first dose! One conscious breath unleashes the power “meditation medication” and allows us to discover the abode of true happiness.

Modern neuroscience has discovered the secret to happiness with functional MRI scans but small children already live from this place. You can discover true happiness only in one place: THE PRESENT MOMENT. When scientists peer into the brain with fancy imaging technology, present moment awareness is in the medial prefrontal cortex. Why? Because that is where present moment awareness lives in our brain and it helps us avoid mind wandering which leads to suffering. Tapping into the present moment helps produce the relaxation response. Small children live in present moment awareness, hence for them every moment is as if they are on a vacation. Think about the absurdity of a 3-year-old child saying they need a vacation! Children naturally live this principle since they are one with all of creation.  

One Christmas when my oldest daughter was 2-years-old, her grandmother invited us over to unwrap the many lavish presents Santa brought our daughter. Our 2-year-old excitedly unwrapped several gifts and became enthralled. She was fascinated by the wrapping paper and ignored the gifts. The wrapping paper’s unique texture, shiny burst of colors and sound it produced when crinkled was fascinating. Grandma became irritated that the gifts were ignored and gently directed attention to the expensive doll. Our 2-year old was oblivious to the expensive gifts and found great joy and happiness as she danced in communion with simple wrapping paper. Children find bliss in the simple pleasures of life. Why? Because small children are awake to the present moment. If we are mindful of the present moment, then we too can discover this child-like bliss, and harness a vacation state of mind every day. What can adults do to harness this power? The loving-kindness meditation practice.

Some meditation practices can cause serious side effects. Individuals who are are suffering or at risk for anxiety, depression or psychosis can actually worsen their condition by some forms of meditation. For example, doing a breathing meditation in a dark room with eyes closed is not recommended when an individual has emotional turbulence.

There are three broad types of meditation practices: Focused attention/concentration, Mindfulness, and loving-kindness practice. All three types of practices have numerous health benefits and promote neurogenesis. Only the loving-kindness practice is universally safe and nurturing even when an individual is experiencing emotional turbulence. There are many variations to the loving-kindness practice but I will share with you my favorite.

Find a comfortable place where you will not be disturbed. You may be sitting, lying or walking and you may have your eyes open. Place both hands over your heart. Think of an individual that brings about warm, loving feelings in your heart. This can be a parent, grandparent, spiritual teacher, or a companion animal. Hold this individual in your mind's eye and silently affirm three times:

May you be happy, healthy and free from suffering.  May you be happy, healthy and free from suffering.  May you be happy, healthy and free from suffering.

Now this should have produced warm loving feelings in your heart when you wished a loved one well. Next, hold yourself in your mind’s eye and silently affirm three times:

May I be happy, healthy and free from suffering.  May I be happy, healthy and free from suffering.  May I be happy, healthy and free from suffering.

Now this should have produced more warm, loving feelings in your heart. Next, hold all living beings in your mind’s eye and silently affirm three times:

May all beings be happy, healthy and free from suffering.  May all beings be happy, healthy and free from suffering. May all beings be happy, healthy and free from suffering.

That can be the end of the practice. However, if you want to go deeper there is one final evolution that can be very liberating. Please note, this final step maybe too difficult to practice for some, and you should only proceed when you feel ready. Remember the quote by Lewis Smedes, “When you forgive you set the prisoner free, then you realize the prisoner was you.”

Now think of a difficult person you are on bad terms with. This could be a friend, relative, coworker, a politician, etc. Next, hold this person in your mind’s eye and silently affirm three times:

May you be happy, healthy and free from suffering.  May you be happy, healthy and free from suffering.  May you be happy, healthy and free from suffering.

When you wish others well with the loving-kindness meditation practice you help eradicate negative thinking and help engender happiness. There are 18 scientifically documented health benefits to loving-kindness meditation. In the next installment we shall see through the power of positive psychology we can manifest our own reality. We shall explore the fourth principle: Experience is Created By Thought.

There are Five Ancient Universal Principles that children live every day and allow every day to be filled with peace, joy, and contentment. I have created a mnemonic device that will help you remember the 5 principles for inner and outer transformation: L.O.V.E.S. The Answer. These principles have been around for thousands of years can be practiced with any religion.