Good Luck Charms Around the World

good luck charms
For people living in different countries around the world, various charms, talismans, and amulets have become symbols of good luck. Here’s a list of some of the most famous ones, and their meaning.

While some of these good luck charms are used throughout several countries in a given region, others remain unique to certain nations. I’ve put together a collection of some of the most famous good luck charms from around the world, along with an explanation of why they’re considered lucky. Take a look!


List of the most famous Good Luck Charms

Maneki-Neko

Good luck in Japan

Maneki-Neko good luck charms

In Japan, these cat figures are believed to bring good luck to their owners. They are often displayed in front of the entrance of shops, restaurants, and businesses and vary in size and design.


Carp Scales

Good luck in Poland

Carp Scales good luck charms

In several countries in central Europe, carp is a traditional Christmas meal. Once the meal is over, people will often retrieve the carp’s scales and sometimes put them in their wallets until the following Christmas Even for good luck.


Elephants

Good luck in India

elephant good luck charms

Elephants are seen as a symbol of good luck and representation of power, stability, and wisdom in many countries – especially India. Ganesha, one of the most-worshipped Hindu deities, even has the head of an elephant. It is sometimes placed in family’s houses, with its back to the door, to prevent negative energies from entering.


Hamsa

Good luck in Israel

hamsa good luck charms

The hand-shaped charms can often be seen decorating family homes, public spaces, or offices, and they are believed to ward off the evil eye. Hamsa, also known as Hand of Fatima, is a protection amulet that honors Fatima, daughter of the prophet Muhammad. It represents the five pillars of the Muslim faith: faith, prayer, fasting, charity, and pilgrimage. It is the symbol chosen to be the logo of this blog.


Pigs

Good luck in Germany

pigs

In Germany, possessing pigs was seen as a sign of wealth and prosperity during the Middle Ages, indicating that their owners would never go hungry.


Dreamcatchers

Good luck in Native American culture

Dreamcatchers

When hung over or near one’s bed, the dreamcatcher is believed to catch the dreams as they flow by, letting the good ones though. Learn how to make your own dreamcatcher here.


Red Bats

Good luck in China

red bats

Red bats are thought to ward off evil and are often worn as lucky charms in China. Five red bats also stands as a representation of the five good fortunes of health, longevity, love, wealth, and virtue.


Figa Charm

Good luck in Brazil and Portugal

fingers crossed

Figa charms are known for repelling bad energy and bringing good fortune. It is thought that the charm stores all of the luck that you haven’t used yet. Just as a curiosity, this gesture was used in ancient Rome in cults of fertility and eroticism, symbolizing the thumb (male organ) penetrating the wrist (female organ).


Scarabs

Good luck in Egypt

scarab

Scarabs are associated with the daily rising of the sun and of continual birth and rebirth in Egypt. It is thought to stand as a representation of new creation and eternal life and to protect the bearer from evil.


Nazar

Good luck in Turkey

nazar

A nazar is an eye-shaped amulet believed to protect one from the evil eye, and it is typically made of handmade glass in blue, white, light blue, and black. The amulet can be seen in many other countries, including Greece and Cyprus. Hanging at the entrance of the house or used in necklaces and bracelets, this amulet symbolizes God’s eye, who protects and illuminates.


Dala Horse

Good luck in Sweden

Dala Horse

The horses, which originated from the Dalarna region in Sweden, are thought to represent strength, faithfulness, wisdom, and dignity.


Acorns

Good luck in England

acorns

Acorns are considered representations of youth, spiritual growth, and prosperity. They have long been considered symbols of luck and power and were carried by the English during the Norman Conquest.


Worry Dolls

Good luck in Guatemala

Worry Dolls good luck charms

According to folklore, people who cannot fall asleep reveal their worries to the doll, which is then believed to take over their concerns, allowing them to sleep.


Tumi

Good luck in Peru

good luck charms

In Peru, it is considered good luck to hang a tumi on the wall. The ceremonial knife, usually made of bronze, gold, silver, or copper, was used in ritual ceremonies in the past.


Ankh

Good luck in Egypt

ank

The Ankh cross is the Egyptian symbol of life. It represents the union between heaven and earth. It is believed to attract health, longevity, fertility, and protection.


Buddha

Good luck around the world

buddha good luck charms

The Buddha Statues, for most people are the main subject of curiosity as they have different hand gestures, poses and styles. Although Buddha statues may differ artistically between cultures, some features and meanings remain the same. Common characteristics among Buddha statues include the Buddha standing, sitting or lying down. Here are some of the most famous ones:

  • Protection Buddha: this seated Buddha with the right hand raised and facing outwards has two common meanings: the raised hand represents a shield, bringing protection and helping to overcome fears;
  • Meditation Buddha: this seated Buddha with both hands in the lap, facing up, and crossed legs, is for people who are either looking for peace and clam in their lives, or for those who wish to improve their own meditation skills. It represents concentration and stability;
  • Three Wise Buddhas (See no Evil Buddha): This set of 3 buddhas refers to the trinity, a symbol of divine protection, help, and guidance. These statues of laughing Buddhas portray the three wise monkeys and the proverb associated with being the good mind, speech, and action: 1. Hear not evil Buddha: The Kikazaru monkey covers his ears to hear no evil. 2. See no evil Buddha: The Mizaru monkey covers his eyes and sees no evil around. 3. Speak no evil Buddha: The Iwazaru monkey, who covers his mouth to speak no evil.

Horseshoe

Good luck in the USA

horseshoe

The legend says that during the 10th century, St. Dunstan (a blacksmith at the time) was visited by the devil himself. The hoofed devil asked for a horseshoe for himself. So then, Dunstan nailed a red hot horseshoe tightly on one of his hooves, and the devil howled in pain. The devil begged for Dunstan to remove it. Dunstan agreed under one condition — the devil must respect the horseshoe and never enter any place where one was hung above the door. Because of this, people believed that the horseshoe could keep evil spirits out of their homes, for good luck and protection.


Four-leaf clover

Good luck all over the world

Four-leaf clover

This is an amulet of good luck and prosperity. The Celts believed that anyone who found a four-leaf clover would absorb the powers of the forest and even the good fortune of the gods. Because it was difficult to find, it was a clear sign that the person was lucky.


Star of David

Good luck all over the world

star of david

Common in Judaism, the star of David is known as the seal of Solomon (son of David) and it used to be the sign of royalty in Israel. It symbolizes wisdom and the physical & spiritual realms. It attracts protection and prosperity.


Crucifix

Good luck all over the world

crucifix

The crucifix is the Catholic symbol of the resurrection. It represents the suffering of Jesus Christ to save humanity and it is used as an amulet for protection against evil.


Endless Knot

Good luck all over the world

Endless knot

In Buddhism, this is the symbol of interconnection, cause and effect. It represents the Buddha’s infinite wisdom. It is used as an amulet for a harmonious, long and happy life.


Triple Moon

Good luck in Greece

Design sem nome (2)

Used in Wicca, the Triple Moon represents the Triple Goddess (maiden, mother, and crone). It symbolizes the cycle of life and mother nature. This amulet is used for fertility, intuition, love and protection.


Celtic Knot

Good luck in Ireland

Celtic Knot

This is the Celtic representation of the three faces of the great mother. It is also the knot that ties all things together, symbolizing eternity and interconnection between the physical, mental and spiritual world. It is used for harmony and balance.


Eye of Horus

Good luck in Egypt and Malta

Eye of Horus

The right eye (Eye of Horus) represents the masculine, reasoning, and mathematics. The left eye (Eye of Osiris) represents the feminine, intuition and magic. Together, they represent the power of the Universe, functioning as an amulet of balance and harmony.

In Malta, where I currently live, there are some traditional fishing boats named luzzu:

luzzu-face

These boats are brightly painted in shades of yellow, red, green and blue, and the bow is normally pointed with a pair of eyes – the Eye of Horus and Osiris. They are said to protect the fishermen while at sea.


You can find some other good luck charms in this link.

Check other posts about spirituality and self-growth in the Spirituality section of my blog

An Illustrated Guide to Smudge Sticks

Smudging
Smudging is an ancient practice that clears low vibrations and negative energies. It is commonly used to purify a space before a ritual or meditation. This form of aromatherapy can also reduce stress, balance your energy, and cleanse your home. Learn more about the different types of smudge sticks and how to use them!

What is Smudging?

Smudging is the act of burning herb or wood sticks to get rid of negative energy on yourself, your home or any space. Smudging can be useful when you’re feeling depressed, angry, resentful or unwell, also after you have had an argument with someone, or simply if you have felt a negative energy in your home.

Smudging is a technique used for thousands of years by Native Americans, as well as in ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt, as a way to cleanse a space from negative energy.


How to choose a smudge stick

It is important to know that all plants are sacred, not just sage. Different plants/ woods carry various properties and benefits, so if you hold a specific intention for your smudging ritual, you should select an herb that resonates with that intention.

Here are some of the most famous smudge sticks, and what they are used for:

White Sage

White sage is best known as a ceremonial smudge plant, to purify spaces. Apart from its antibacterial properties, it can change the mood and energy of a room or a person. It is also commonly used to cleanse a space before meditation.

white sage

Palo Santo

‘Palo Santo’ translates to ‘Holy Wood’. This is an ancient and powerful healing wood from Peru that has been used by shamans for centuries – and it smells amazing. Palo Santo is known for its power to clearing negative energies associated with illness, as well as inspiring creativity, bringing a deeper connection to the divine source and aiding in physical healing.

Palo Santo

Juniper

Juniper is usually burned for ritual purification and to invigorate the mind and body when tired.

Juniper

Mugwort

Mugwort is used traditionally to bring clarity and develop psychic abilities, as well as to cleanse energies and get rid of negativity. It has a reputation for stimulating dreams, therefore, many burn it before bedtime.

mugwort

Cedar

It is known for banishing fear. People have used cedar to drive out negative energy, bring in good influences, and even to bless a new house when people are moving in.

Cedar

Rosemary

Rosemary is a powerful cleanser for your home and your own aura. It’s associated with fire, sun and masculine energy. Scientific evidence also suggests that rosemary stimulates the memory centers of the brain.

rosemary

How to use Smudging Sticks

In order to do this, you can make your own smudge sticks or buy them online. To make your own stick, you just have to wrap a 100% cotton string around the chosen herb, and make a knot at the bottom.

To smudge it, light one end of the stick and let it catch fire. Extinguish the fire and let the smoke billow from the stick. Walk around your home letting the smoke get anywhere, in every room, in cupboards and small spaces. As the smoke rises into the air, picture your intention, whatever it may be.

The smoke is not dangerous and will not harm your pets. Use a bowl or a dish to catch any ashes. When finished, extinguish your smudge or let it burn out on its own. It’s often said that it will burn as long and strong as needed to fulfill the intention.

The beauty of smudging is that it can be done any time, and as often as you need, no matter your background or culture.


You can buy smudge sticks online here.

Check other posts about spirituality and self-growth in the Spirituality section of my blog

Crystals Guide: Find the Right One for You

crystals
The premise of working with crystals is that each stone has the purpose of magnifying or balancing the energy center you’re focusing on. Find my suggestions on crystals to align your chakras here.

The premise of working with chakra crystals is that each crystal has the purpose of magnifying or balancing the energy center you’re focusing on. In order to choose a healing crystal, you have to look at several stone attributes, including its energetic quality, color, and the intuitive or personal resonance you have with it.


How To Choose The Right Crystals

First, you can check the set of stones typically associated with each chakra. Chakras are energy “wheels” throughout our body. The study of chakras is nothing new, originating in around 500 BC in India. People who study chakras believe that these energy wheels connect our minds, body and spirit. There are 7 chakras throughout our bodies and they all serve different functions.

However, when different things happen such as anxiety, depression, loss, trauma, or other emotional upsets it can cause our chakras to be clogged or blocked. Chakras being clogged can cause a plethora of emotional, physical, and mental issues. Luckily though, if you are aware it is not hard to unblock them. Many people have found that by using certain crystals you can unclog your chakras. Note that the chakras can have several stones associated with each one of them and you will need to determine which one works best for you and in which circumstance.

You may also use your intuition or intuitive perception to pick your healing crystals. For that, use the intuitive sense or senses that are most developed for you. You may look at crystals and see which ones are most appropriate because of their glow. You may feel the energy of the crystal by hovering over it with your hand and feeling a tingling or heating sensation. Or you may just know which one to choose when you need it.


1. Crown Chakra (Sahasrara)

1
  • Colour: Lilac
  • Location: Top of the head
  • Description: Chakra of enlightenment and connection with the divine
  • When balanced: Promotes peace, wisdom, connection, and well-being
  • When unbalanced: Causes phobias, forgetfulness, confusion, disconnection from others, isolation, and difficulties in thinking

Crystals:

1a

2. Third Eye Chakra (Ajña)

6
  • Colour: Indigo Blue
  • Location: Between the eyebrows
  • Description: Chakra of intuition, perception and paranormal
  • When balanced: Promotes intuition and psychic abilities
  • When unbalanced: Causes nightmares, headaches, depression, trouble learning new skills, and lack of focus

Crystals:

2a

3. Throat Chakra (Vishuddha)

3
  • Colour: Light Blue
  • Location: Throat
  • Description: Chakra of communication, personal truth, and creativity
  • When balanced: Promotes intuition and psychic abilities
  • When unbalanced: Causes thyroid problems, trouble expressing yourself, fear of being judged, and lack of creativity

Crystals:

3a

4. Heart Chakra (Anahata)

4
  • Colour: Green
  • Location: Center of the chest
  • Description: Chakra of love, which makes all the energy circulate
  • When balanced: Promotes acceptance and inner peace
  • When unbalanced: Causes sadness, shyness, jealousy, demotivation, and heart problems

Crystals:

4a

5. Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura)

5
  • Colour: Yellow
  • Location: Naval area
  • Description: Chakra of identity, self-esteem and personal strength
  • When balanced: Promotes strength, courage, and self-confidence
  • When unbalanced: Causes anxiety, rage, nervousness, powerless, and digestive problems

Crystals:

5a

6. Sacral Chakra (Svadhisthana)

6
  • Colour: Orange
  • Location: Below the navel, in the pelvic region
  • Description: Chakra of sexuality, creativity and pursuit of happiness
  • When balanced: Promotes joy, happiness, and lots of creativity
  • When unbalanced: Causes guilt, fear, unhappiness, tiredness, attachment, and weight problems

Crystals:

6a

7. Root Chakra (Muladhara)

7
  • Colour: Red
  • Location: At the base of the spine of the pelvic floor
  • Description: Chakra of physical needs and survival/ basic needs
  • When balanced: Promotes stability, safety, and security
  • When unbalanced: Causes fear, fatigue, anxiety, and low self-esteem

Crystals:

7a

How To Use Crystals For Balancing The Chakras

Once you’ve chosen the crystal you want to use, place it near or on the chakra location on the body. A laying down position is easier for working with crystals. However, you may use a crystal while you’re standing or sitting by simply holding it in your hands or wearing it as jewelry on a pendent, in your pocket to keep it close to your body. Keep it next to your chakra between 10-20 minutes.

The chakras function as if they were doors, attracting the energy around that matches your level of vibration, and also as inputs to raise levels of consciousness. Focus on activating the resonance between the stone and your chakras with the power of your intention, meditation, or simply relax knowing you have the support of your chakra stone to harmonize frequencies.

When you bring the crystal closer to the chakra or place the crystal over the chakra, the crystal increases the energy center of that chakra, also reinforcing its energetic vibration, cleaning it and restoring all the harmony.

How to Cleanse Crystals

Don’t forget to cleanse or recharge your crystals before and after using them. For that, there are many methods including leaving them in water and salt for a little while (be careful, some crystals are sensitive to salty water), leaving them under the sun or the moonlight for the day or the night, smudging them with sage, burying them in the soil for an extended period of time for more intense regeneration.

Here are some of the methods I prefer and recommend:

Water and Salt

Place the crystals inside a glass container (preferably transparent) and cover them with cold water and a handful of salt. Leave them to rest for a few hours, overnight. When removing the crystals, rinse them under running water.

Selenite Crystal

This crystal is widely used to purify environments and crystals, having an incredible energy cleaning capacity. All you have to do is arrange the crystals in a circle with a selenite in the middle.

Smudging

Smudging the crystals with sage or with your favorite incense is another way of cleaning them. Try to smudge all surfaces of the crystal, for as long as you feel necessary.

Rain

On rainy days, you can place the crystals on your balcony, for example, and leave them out in the rain. This cleaning method is wonderful, and if there is a storm and lightning even better as this energizes the crystals.

Sun & Moon

The perfect match! This energization is very strong because we obtain two polarities: the masculine energy of the sun and the feminine energy of the moon. Just place the crystals outside for a few hours, so that they can receive the light from these two stars.

Hands

Place the crystal in your hands and start rubbing and rotating it until you feel a slight warmth. Imagine a passage of colored energy coming out of your hands into the crystal. Don’t forget and trust that you are a unique being with a lot of energy!


Knowing When To Cleanse Your Crystals

The use of stones or crystals to clean the chakras or as an amulet requires a great intuition, but over time you will feel a very special connection with them. Time will teach you to feel when they are loaded with bad vibrations (depending on their use or the environment they are in) and need to be cleaned. There are crystals that have to be energized once a week, others only once a month. Trust your intuition!

Final Note

Remember that balance starts with thoughts. The law of attraction is always at work, in your favor or not. We are really the result of our thoughts and we attract everything we think. So think of the light and you will be light, think of the good and you will always have the good!


Check other posts about spirituality and self-growth in the Spirituality section of my blog

Pranayama, the Power of Breathing

pranayama breathing
When we are born, our life starts with a breath, and when we die, our life ends with it – prana (our life force energy). Our breath influences mental faculties and physiological health. If our breath is able to sustain our very existence, why would we choose not to nurture it? Learn some breathing exercises techniques also known as pranayama here.

What is Pranayama?

Pranayama is not only a deep set of breathing exercises but one of the 8 branches of yoga:

pranayama breathing yoga

In today’s sedentary and stressful lifestyle, most of us live on a shallow and quick breath, using only a fraction of our total lung capacity and living on just enough energy supply for the body to function. This way of breathing limits our vitality and our resistance to diseases, and potentially starves our brain of essential oxygen, creating tiredness, irritability, and disturbed sleep.

Prana is the subtle energy form that governs all functions of your body and mind, taking responsibility for the coordination of breathing, the senses, and the mind.  This profound knowledge of careful direction and circulation of prana through pranayama exercises aims to manipulate the respiration rate, deepen and elongate the breath, and therefore sustain life. Try it for yourself – you’ll see that you will feel the calm, peace and physical benefits, even after just a few minutes!

Deep inhalation and exhalation of breath increases the level of oxygen being supplied to the blood and as a result, it improves the quality of your bodily tissues. Many studies highlight the positive effects of pranayama breathing exercises on medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, migraines, obesity, asthma, and high blood pressure, as well as many stress-related conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia.


Preparation for Pranayama

Setting up the right environment will enhance the clarity and focus of your mind during the practice of pranayama and meditation. Set up your space so that it is clean, clutter-free, noise-free, with plenty of ventilation so that fresh air is able to enter the room. Keep some comfort provisions, such as cushions and blankets, nearby in case you need extra support, padding, and warmth.

When you practice pranayama breathing exercises, you should sit in a comfortable position, ideally seated on the floor or on a chair, with the spine erect, chest open and the focus on your breath.

For all breathing exercises listed here, start by sitting comfortably on the floor with legs crossed (siddhasana / padmasana) or sitting on your knees (vajrasana), or on a chair with your back straight and feet firmly flat on the floor. 5-6 minutes each morning is sufficient as a starting point. Ideally breathing exercises should be done on an empty stomach.


Pranayama Breathing Exercises

Bhramari Pranayama (Bumblebee Breath)

Bhramari-1

Benefits

A technique that helps promote restful sleep and helps overcome insomnia. It is great at silencing the mind. The vibration of this breath does not allow any thoughts to enter your mind.

Technique

Take a normal breath in, then let go and relax. Then cover your ears with your thumbs and your eyes with your fingers to block out external disturbances and enable you to go inward. Take a deep inhalation to your natural full lung capacity, then, as you slowly exhale, make a low humming sound in your throat until your breath is complete. Repeat at your own pace for 2-3 minutes. This is a great exercise pre-bedtime.


Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breath)

Alternate_Nostril_Breathing-1

Benefits

This breath is designed to cleanse the channels of the physical and subtle body. Alternate nostril breathing will help you to balance the left and right side of the brain, the sympathetic and parasympathetic activity, helping you to bring your awareness to the breath and stimulating a grounding sensation.

Technique

Using your right hand (reverse, if you prefer left), place your right thumb beside your right nostril and your ring and little finger beside the left nostril. Gently close the right nostril with your thumb and exhale out of your left nostril. Inhale with the left nostril while you count to four. Then close the left nostril and breathe out through the right. Inhale with the right nostril, close the right nostril and exhale from the left. This completes one full circle, but you can continue for 4-5 minutes. Ensure that you take a moment to pause between each inhalation and exhalation – this will help you to keep your breath slow, steady and just slightly deeper than normal.


Ujjaya Pranayama (Victorious Breath)

Benefits

This breath helps remove the heat from the head, as it cools the back of the throat. It is a great way to draw oxygen into the lungs, helping you to expand, deepen and lengthen your breath. It helps remove phlegm in the throat and relieves the symptoms of asthma and other pulmonary diseases. Ujjaya increases resistance to diseases of nerves, dysentery, dyspepsia, enlarged spleen, coughs and fever.

Technique

Sitting comfortably, inhale a slow breath through the nose that travels down the back of the throat and into the lungs, to a full but comfortable lung capacity (sounds like a Darth Vader-like breathing noise), then slowly release it in the same manner as inhalation.


Shitali Pranayama (Cooling Breath)

Cooling_Breath-1

Benefits

This breath is a cooling breath, so if you are feeling agitated, angry and overheated, this one is for you. It helps quench thirst and appeases hunger. Shitali pranayama cools the physical body, especially the back of the mouth and throat. It reduces the inflammation of chronic diseases, fever, and indigestion.

Technique

Protrude your tongue and make it like a tube/ straw. Draw air in through your tongue to your natural lung capacity with a hissing sound, and exhale slowly through both nostrils – 2-3 minutes is sufficient for this exercise.


Sheetkari Pranayama (Hissing Breath)

unnamed

Benefits

Sheetkari pranayama has similar benefits to shitali pranayama. It is known as the hissing breath.

Technique

Touch the tongue to the roof of the palate and gently clench your teeth. Open your lips widely so the teeth are exposed and breathe in through the mouth to your natural full lung capacity from the abdomen through to the chest, and then slowly release through the nose. Repeat for 2-3 minutes.


Kapala Bhati Pranayama (Skull Shining Breath)

Benefits

This vigorous, energizing breath helps to stimulate and strengthen your abdominal muscles and diaphragm. It also massages and improves the function of your digestive organs, purifies the channels of the body and clears the lungs, bringing clarity to the mind and warmth to the body.

Technique

Since this is an energizing breath, it is best to do this in the morning only. You can do this when you are cold or when you are feeling sluggish. Start by exhaling your breath and then, in quick motions, take a passive breath in through the lower abdomen, then forcefully exhale the breath while pulling the navel towards the spine. The emphasis is on the exhalation while you contract your abdomen. Take a cycle of 15 breaths and repeat 3-4 times, with a short gap to rest between each cycle.


Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellow Breath)

pranayama breathing

Benefits

Another energizing breath that will increase your prana and purify the subtle channels. This exercise will help stimulate your digestive power, giving you improved appetite and metabolism. The below breath brings clarity to the mind and warmth to the body. The stimulating nature of this breath helps to combat phlegm and reduce diseases of the nose and chest, including asthma.

Technique

Sitting comfortably with your eyes closed and body relaxed, inhale deeply and exhale deeply using the belly. This is similar to kapala bhati, but with an emphasis on both inhalation and exhalation from the abdomen. Go to a steady pace. You can do 3 rounds of 20 breaths, with a short break in between.


After your Practice

Take some time to rest after each breathing exercise to observe the sensations that you are feeling in your mind and body. You are not trying to orchestrate any experience, you are simply allowing the body to be free in the moment. Use this time to let go of your awareness and be present in the body. You might like to direct your attention to different parts of the body. Just observe what you are experiencing in that part of the body for a while. You’ll see your awareness expanding. This is a perfect opportunity to lead into your meditation practice.


Benefits of Pranayama

  • It increases the lungs capacity to energize the body with a fresh supply of oxygen
  • It reduces your breathing rate, which can reduce hypertension
  • It expels toxic waste from the respiratory system
  • It improves the health of your heart
  • It strengthens the respiratory and nervous systems
  • It helps increase metabolic activity and digestion
  • It reduces stress, and calms the mind and nervous activity
  • It increases awareness and concentration
  • It increases energy and vitality by providing stimulation for the internal organs
  • It reduces negative emotions, such as anger, irritability, depression, greed, arrogance, and jealousy

Check other posts about spirituality and self-growth in the Spirituality section of my blog

Meditation Techniques and Benefits

Meditation
Understand what meditation is, how to meditate, its benefits, and discover other tools that you can use to complement your practice like mantras or mudras.

Meditation, the medicine of the mind

When it comes to meditation, a lot of people think ‘I don’t have time’, ‘I don’t know how’, ‘It’s not for me’, ‘I can’t clear my head’, ‘I am already too busy’, ‘I am not sure I’m doing it right’. It’s true, we live in a busy world that continues to get more frantic, more technology-focused and more distant from our true human nature. We are no longer able to understand what it means to be present in the moment. And for this reason alone, I believe meditation is more important than ever before!


What is meditation?

Let’s demystify this a little. In meditation, we are actually not trying to achieve or ‘do’ anything. Meditation is simply a state of ‘restful alertness’. Yes, there are many forms of meditation, but don’t be overwhelmed. You can start with simple techniques and, as you become accustomed to a regular practice, you can then expand with techniques of meditation that resonate with you. There is no right or wrong. This is about self-awareness and connectivity to your deeper consciousness. You can use meditation to bring yourself into a state of deep physical relaxation and inner awareness.

Meditation has become increasingly popular and even trendy in recent years, with more and more people turning to meditation for peace of mind. Ironically, technology has made meditation much more accessible can serve as a fantastic introduction to and way of experiencing some of the numerous benefits with Spotify meditation playlists or apps for guided meditation.

Meditation comes in all different shapes and sizes. There are hundreds of different types of meditation, including the below, so for sure there is a practice that will work for you:

  • Mantra-based meditation
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Guided meditation
  • Sound meditation
  • Kundalini meditation
  • Zen meditation
  • Transcendental meditation (which became popular with The Beatles)
  • Vipassana meditation
  • Loving-kindness meditation
  • Yoga meditation
  • And so on!

We have on average 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day. If you go on the premise that through meditation you will be able to stop all thoughts altogether, you are headed to an impossible task! So much of the noise in our minds is generated by our own internal dialogue, impressions of past memories and anxieties about the future. The aim is not to force the mind to be quiet but to connect to the stillness that already resides within. This is our happy place, the place of higher awareness. The home of love, compassion, empathy and joy.


Why should you meditate?

The more you believe that your mind cannot be calm and that meditation is a waste of time, the more I say you probably need it. People have been meditating for thousands of years to expand awareness and stay in the present moment. One thing is for sure: our minds have become more frenzied than ever before, and we can sometimes lose control of our emotions.

Meditation helps us to regain control over our emotions and nerves by quieting the mind. Through meditation, you can start to reduce the number of thoughts that take over your day. Over time, you will be able to reduce negative emotions such as fear, grief, anger, greed and jealousy, which trigger the release of stress hormones that can affect your physical health as well. Connecting to your consciousness and deepening your intuition helps when you are trying to make healthy dietary and lifestyle choices.


How to meditate

Setting up the right environment will enhance the clarity and focus of your mind during the practice of meditation. Set up your space so that it is clean, clutter-free, noise-free, with plenty of ventilation so that fresh air is able to enter the room. Keep some comfort provisions, such as cushions and blankets, nearby in case you need extra support, padding, and warmth.

When you practice meditation, you should sit in a comfortable position, ideally seated on the floor or on a chair, with the spine erect, chest open and the focus on your breath. If you want, start by doing some breathing exercises (pranayama) to put you in the zone for meditation.

meditation-stilinger

Place your hands on your legs or knees, palms facing up. Close your eyes and start to deepen your breath. Bring your awareness to your breath and keep your focus on the rise and fall of your chest area as you gently breathe in and out. Start by counting to 4 while you are breathing in and again counting to 4 while you are breathing out. When you feel relaxed, just be gentle and start to breathe normally again. Continue for as long as you can – up to 20 minutes ideally. If you want, you can use other tools to complement your practice, such as music, mantras, mudras or visualizations as focal points. Thoughts will come in. As soon as you witness them, release them and try to focus again on your breath, music, mantra, mudra or visualization.


What are mudras?

The hand postures are known as mudras. These can influence your mind, body and mood. They are used particularly in worship and rituals in the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and other faiths and are also used in many cultures to greet people.

In the UK, for example, people greet each other by shaking hands, in Europe you kiss each other’s cheeks and in India you place both hands together in prayer (anjali mudra), bow the head and say ‘Namaste’. This mudra with the word ‘Namaste’ translates as ‘The divinity in me bows to the divinity in you’, as a way of being welcoming and respectful to all. While preserving your personal energy, prayer hands help you to connect both the right and left side of the brain at the same time, representing unification. In Yoga, this gesture serves as an ‘offering’ of yourself as you commit to your practice.  Prayer hands focus your awareness on the spiritual heart center in your chest.

Mudras can be used as a focal point in meditation. These hand gestures have been used in the East for thousands of years, not only as a way of connecting to your higher self and channeling energy in meditation, but also as a way to heal physical ailments, improve clarity and concentration, and encourage love and compassion.

finger elements

We are composed of 5 elements and each finger represents one of those elements. The thumb represents fire (agni), the index finger represents air (vayu), the middle finger represents ether (akash), the ring finger represents earth (prithvi) and the little finger represents water (jala). Since all problems and diseases are caused by an imbalance in one (or several) element(s), you can use mudras to channel the flow of prana through your fingers and balance those elements.


Types of Mudras

Gyan Mudra

gyan mudra

This mudra stimulates the root chakra and is grounding. Calms and improves concentration.

Vayu Mudra

2

This mudra helps prevent problems such as gas, sciatica, gout and rheumatism.

Akash Mudra

akash Mudra

This mudra increases the space within body and mind. Increases intuitive power and alertness. It is beneficial for bone diseases, ear pain and toothache.

Prana Mudra

prana mudra

This mudra gives energy, reduces fatigue and nervousness. It calms you, brings inner stability and improves vision.

Prithvi Mudra

prithvi mudra

This mudra increases heat, energy and strength in the body.

Jala Mudra

jala mudra

This mudra increases and restores water balance in the body. It helps reduce dryness in the skin and congestion in the lungs.


What are mantras?

Faith-based healing is real and there are cases all over the world. In our hour of need, when all else fails, many of us turn to prayer as a request for help and assistance from a higher source. Prayer helps to restore a sense of hope and comfort and helps us ‘feel’ better.

It doesn’t matter your faith, religion or belief structure. What is important is that you understand that words carry power, both internally and externally, and what we believe becomes our reality. It is the placebo effect. Praying or saying mantras is a way to communicate with your consciousness.

Mantras are energetic sound vibrations, and they can enhance the benefits of meditation. Man is the root of manas, meaning ‘the mind’ or ‘to think’, and tra is a suffix that means ‘tool’ or instrument, so mantra literally means the tool for the mind.

Mantras are sounds that produce vibrations within your body as you chant. This chanting connects you to your ‘higher self’ and to the universe. Mantras are a great tool to calm the mind in meditation. This powerful technique of sound channeling can also influence deep-seated emotional patterns, exercise, increase the strength of the mental faculties, open your intuition and increase your awareness.


Types of Mantras

Lam

Related to the earth, root chakra and adrenals. It brings groundedness, contentment, and stability.

Vam

Related to water, sacral chakra and reproductive glands. It encourages willpower.

Ram

Related to fire, the solar plexus and the pancreas. It gives power of movement and direction.

Yam

Related to air, the heart center and thymus. It gives space and force.

Ham

Related to ether, the throat chakra, and the thyroid.

Ksham

Related to the third eye chakra, and the pituitary gland.

Om

Related to the crown chakra, the center of consciousness and pineal gland.

Mantras

Mantras are a great technique to incorporate with the practice of meditation, as the vibration generated can help balance the seven chakras and the five elements. These mantras stimulate positive energy and healing for their associated organs, chakras and elements.


Check other posts about spirituality and self-growth in the Spirituality section of my blog

Reiki: What is It and What Are the Benefits?

Reiki
Reiki is a Japanese alternative medicine where energy is transferred through a technique called palm healing. Reiki is very good for stress reduction, relaxation, healing and chakra alignment!

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a Japanese alternative medicine called energy healing. Reiki practitioners use a technique called palm healing or hands-on healing through which a “universal energy” is said to be transferred through the palms of the practitioner to the patient in order to encourage emotional or physical healing.

Reiki is very good for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words – Rei which means “God’s Wisdom or the Higher Power” and Ki which is “life force energy”. So Reiki is actually “spiritually guided life force energy.”

An amazingly simple technique to learn, the ability to use Reiki is not taught in the usual sense, but is transferred to the student during a Reiki class. This ability is passed on during an “attunement” given by a Reiki master and allows the student to tap into an unlimited supply of “life force energy” to improve one’s health and enhance the quality of life.

While Reiki is spiritual in nature, it is not a religion. It has no dogma, and there is nothing you must believe in order to learn and use Reiki. In fact, Reiki is not dependent on belief at all and will work whether you believe in it or not.


The Origins of Reiki

Mikaousui

Mikao Usui is considered the founder of Reiki. He was born August 15, 1865 in Japan. In February 1922 he went to Kurama yama, a sacred mountain north of Kyoto to fast and meditate. As time passed, he became weaker and weaker. It was now March 1922 and at midnight of the twenty-first day, a powerful light suddenly entered his mind through the top of his head and he felt as if he had been struck by lightning; this caused him to fall unconscious.

As the sun rose, he awoke and realized that whereas before he had felt very weak and near death from his fasting, he was now filled with an extremely enjoyable state of vitality that he had never experienced before; a miraculous type of high frequency spiritual energy had displaced his normal consciousness and replaced it with an amazingly new level of awareness. He experienced himself as being the energy and consciousness of the Universe and that the special state of enlightenment he had sought had been given to him as a gift. He was overjoyed by this realization.

When this happened, he was filled with excitement and went running down the mountain to tell his Zen master of his great good fortune. On his way down he stubbed his toe on a rock and fell down. And in the same way anyone would do, he placed his hands over the toe, which was in pain. As he did this, healing energy began flowing from his hands all by itself. The pain in his toe went away and the toe was healed. Usui Sensei was amazed by this. He realized that in addition to the illuminating experience he had undergone, he had also received the gift of healing. He also understood that this was his life purpose; to be a healer and to train others.

In April 1922, he moved to Tokyo and started a healing society that he named Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Usui Reiki Healing Method Society). He also opened a Reiki clinic in Harajuku, Aoyama, Tokyo. He taught many students until the end of his life.


5 Reiki Principles

“Just for today, I will not anger.

 Just for today, I will not worry.

 Just for today, I will be grateful for all my blessings.

 Just for today, I will work with honesty and integrity.

 Just for today, I will be kind to all living beings.”

Mikao Usui

The Five Reiki Precepts are often ignored – unfortunatelly. And yet in reality, these precepts are an integral part of Reiki practice and Reiki cannot be really used successfully without integrating these precepts into the life of the practitioner.

They are like guidelines, showing you the best way to heal your life, by making changes in five great fields of life –emotions, thoughts, gratitude, self-growth and compassion to all that exists. Usui suggested that the precepts should be repeated (meditated and contemplated upon) each day and each morning, preferable with your hands in a Gassho mudra.


Reiki Levels

Reiki Level I: Also called Shoden in Japanese. This is entry-level Reiki training where you study Reiki history, learn how to perform self-Reiki, and how to give Reiki to someone else, and are initiated (attuned) for life to the Reiki energy.

Reiki Level II: Also called Okuden in Japanese. You learn how to use the first three Reiki symbols and how to perform distant Reiki techniques. You receive further attunements to the Reiki energy. After this class, you are considered a Reiki practitioner.

Image result for Cho Ku Ray
Cho Ku Ray
Image result for Sei Hei Ki
Sei Hei Ki
Image result for Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen
Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen

Reiki Level III: Also called Shinpiden in Japanese. This is the Master Teacher level of Reiki, and the class may be separated into two parts. You receive the Master Reiki attunement and learn the Master Reiki symbol and how to give the Reiki attunements to others.


Check other posts about spirituality and self-growth in the Spirituality section of my blog