Smudging is a practice of burning herbs, especially sage and cedar, as a way of cleansing spiritual energy within your environment, including your home and office.
The practice of burning sage and cedar began with indigenous people of North America (the Lakota, Chumash, and Cahuilla, among others) for the ceremonial purpose of purifying people and places, although people all around the world have burned various substances — incense for example — as part of their spiritual traditions throughout the centuries.
Advocates of smudging say that the practice helps restore positive energy and that it can help shake off negativity that keeps us feeling tired and depressed.
People even claim that smudging can fend off negative spirits and bad entities that can occupy our living space.
While this all may sound like superstition or “woo-woo” for some, there is at least some actual scientific evidence that the practice can effectively detox the house by killing off negative pathogens that live in the air and that this has positive physical and mental outcomes.
Here’s a look at a few of the potential benefits of smudging:
If you’re relatively new to the practice of meditation and mindfulness, you may find yourself wondering how these two seemingly interconnected practices differ.
After all, lots of people tend to use these terms interchangeably as if they are the exact same thing. And to make matters worse, the two terms are combined when referring to the practice of “mindfulness meditation.”
I have been fortunate enough to spent more than a little time unpacking the subtle differences between the two related practices.
As I have shared my understanding of the differences over the recent years, I am often surprised to meet many people who have practiced one particular style of meditation for years yet cannot fully articulate how it differs from mindfulness.
So, in a few moments, let’s demystify these differences in order to discover two very simple explanations. But first, let’s look at what the two practices have in common.
Most people experience thoughts all day long and rarely discover a moment without thoughts.
So naturally, thoughts are one of the biggest distractions during meditation practice.
When we sit down for meditation, we can quickly become overwhelmed as soon as we notice just how many thoughts are whizzing through our minds.
The Buddhists call this “Monkey Mind,” which has been taken to mean any one of the following terms: Unsettled, restless, capricious, whimsical, fanciful, inconstant, confused, indecisive, and uncontrollable.
Yet quieting the mind is the great aim of meditation practice.
So the question is this: How do we manage our thoughts such that we quiet our minds?
I want to propose two approaches to managing our thoughts, and you must perform both approaches in tandem, as if each approach occupies a separate end of a scale…
Meditation is a tremendous challenge for most people.
So if you’re having trouble reaching 7 minutes in your practice before your brain almost literally EXPLODES, you’re not alone.
While each person is at a unique stage in their meditation practice and each person is undergoing a different set of challenges, we can pinpoint at least a few common obstacles that most people experience at one point or another.
I want to outline nine obstacles in particular that can interrupt our practice of meditation and inhibit our progress.
They start as mere distractions and eventually become obstacles, unless you remedy them.
Meditation and mindfulness are practices that have been cultivated by people over thousands of years in many places, among various traditions, so naturally many different names have arisen for the various nuances of each of these fundamental practices.
However, we can distill all the different nuances of each practice into two simple explanations.
I want to give you some suggestions that will help you better understand the mantra and how to use it.
A mantra is a sound, word, or phrase, often having no meaning whatsoever. Your mantra might be "Om," "I am," "So hum," "Om namah shivaya," or any number of different mantras that correspond to various teachers or traditions. For a detailed explanation of four useful mantras, visit my article here.
Your mantra is a tool, so let’s make sure it’s as sharp as possible.
The first important thing to understand is that mantras fall into two general categories, and one of the categories leads to the next. In other words, the two general categories of mantra present two distinct ways of using them. These are the two ways: