A Challenge . . .

I have long searched for new and different ways to settle my mind down and to remain centered and grounded.  In my work with people who are decidedly NOT grounded, it is imperative that I maintain my focus.  This is important not only for the welfare of my patients but also for my ongoing mental welfare as well.  But long before I was a shrink, I was a seeker of knowledge.  One who was always on the prowl for titbits of knowledge and wisdom.  Some I found through my practice of standard religion, but I have also been open to wisdom from other sources as well . . . the tao te ching . . . A Course In Miracles . . . Castaneda . . . Chopra . . . wherever I can find it.  Putting this knowledge into practice is another issue, tho’.  The many things I want to accomplish each day vie for my attention and, if I am not very careful, meditative time for myself is left to last . . . and then does not get done.  For me, meditative practice MUST occur before the start of the day.  If not . . . won’t happen.   I was recently sent an email from a site my wife turned me onto called the Urban Monk (www.urbanmonk.net).  It was another case of “right place/right time” and I have found it very helpful.  It, combined with some other recent influences, led me to this particular entry which has at it’s core a list of affirmations that I found very inspiring.   I have recently been encouraging my family members to slow down and to do some regular meditating.  I intend to give this particular entry to them and encourage them to follow through with this.  At the bottom of this entry, I have added relevant links to the Urban Monk and to a set of CDs put out by Jon Kabat-Zinn that I think are the best for teaching meditative practices.  I encourage all to slow down . . . and keep exploring and keep learning.

TRY THIS . . .

Sit in a comfortable position.  Either on a chair or on the floor.  There are no rules here, just be comfortable.  Sometimes a little bit of stretching beforehand can help you feel more at ease and relaxed.  Once you have found a position that is comfortable, do the following simple breathing exercise . . .

     1.     Close your eyes and begin to pay attention to your breathing.  

     2.     When you are ready, start counting your breaths.  With every breath in . . . one . . . out . . . two . . . out.  

     3.     With every count in, allow yourself to feel more relaxed and peaceful.

     4.     Count up to 50 breaths.  When you find you have wandered in your thoughts (and you will . . . expect it), start back at the number you can last remember.  It doesn’t matter if you are wrong.  There is no test and no right and wrong with this.

     5.     When you get up to 50 breaths, open your eyes and read the following affirmations either aloud or quietly to yourself.  Whichever is most comfortable for you.



I make the conscious choice to be free, and to hold my freedom as a priority, not to be compromised.

I take full responsibility for my happiness and know that it is never dependent on anyone or anything outside of myself.

I prefer my essential and intrinsic happiness to the temporary fulfillment of desires.

I value my inner peace more than I do winning, defending my identity, proving my point, or reactivly expressing momentary emotions.

I refuse to be reactive, and to let my emotions be controlled by others.

Anger does not guide my hand.  Fear does not inhibit my action.  Desires do not govern me.

Attachments do not bind me.

I do not engage in self defeating behavior.

I accept that which I cannot change.

I have no need to control or possess others.

I do not depend on others for validation or approval.

I allow others the freedom of being themselves, without judging them or attempting to change them.

I can forgive others because I understand that we all act according to our current level of consciousness and understanding.

I am complete in the present moment and therefore do not look to the future for fulfillment.

I am free to give love, without conditions or expectation.

I know that my identity is self defined and self imposed.

I see the impermanence of all things and so do not cling unnecessarily to them.

I realize that all perspectives are fragmentary and incomplete.

I allow others to be free by dropping all demands and expectations of them.

I learn from the past, but do not allow it to interfere with the present.

Though I cannot always control my thoughts, I can control which ones I pursue and give energy.

I understand the difference between what exists in thought and what exists in reality.

I see that if my thoughts have no correlative in physical reality that they are little different than imagination.

I know that all answers lie within and that they can only be obtained through experience.

I will help anyone that I can, knowing that ultmately the responsibility is theirs alone.

I realize that, when I become disturbed, that nothing is missing.  Instead, something has been added and is obscuring my inherent peace and stillness.  That my attention has deviated from the present moment.

I am a light unto myself.



     1.     When you have completed the affirmations, repeat the breathing exercise that you started with, counting again up to 50 breaths.


In completion . . .

I challenge all of you who read this (and myself as well) to do this every day for the next 30 days and see what difference it makes for you.   Write to me and let me know what you have witnessed in yourself.  As I mentioned above, I did not write the affirmations listed above and am just passing them along.  I encourage all of you to go to the source for this and read the entry on the Urban Monk entitled “A Light Unto Yourself/In Case Of Emergency”.  It was originally written by John J. Patton and is very good.  In addition, I have given a link to an excellent set of CDs by Jon Kabat-Zinn that teach meditation better than any book or CDs I have come across.  I am especially fond of the “series 2” CDs and would encourage all to get those as well.



Have a peaceful and happy week.

–Dan Hartman, MD

1 comment to A Challenge . . .

  • AMF

    Your latest entry is wonderful and most appropriate for me. I appreciate the wisdom you are attempting to share with others, acknowledging you struggle with the same things we
    “non-shrinks” do.
    As someone who deals with an anxiety disorder and some real loopy family issues, your challenge has perfect timing.
    Thankfully, I have a great doctor as well.
    I am going to print out the challenge for myself while I consider passing it on to my family. I will also check out the other links you suggested. I’ll do just about anything to get myself centered and grounded – peaceful and quiet!
    Thank you for your writings and congratulations on being
    officially “registered”. (I read the little note in the corner. I even read the quote of the day!)