Recently in our final days of onsite training for Urban Zen at Wexner Heritage Village, the Rabbi Cary Kozberg joined us to deliver a most inspiring maybe even, life changing speech. He commented that Urban Zen offers people “Sabbath moments” in their daily busy, stressful lives. He spoke about the Sabbath as a time to “just be”. I then received a book recommendation from a dear friend and co-worker; ‘Sabbath Keeping’ by Lynne Baab. She too mentions “Sabbath moments” but encourages us to take an entire 24 hour period to really receive the benefits of the Sabbath. I did not grow up in a religious family. I sometimes attended church with friends’ families. My family and I currently do not attend church however, I do believe in God and would like to encourage my children to have a reverence for God and his creations. After listening to the Rabbi and reading ‘Sabbath Keeping’, I’m setting an intention to have a day where my family and I unplug, take a walk together and, enjoy a meal together. We may create certain rituals around this Sabbath day as well to remind us of our relationship to God and this world and, to remind us of the gifts that we receive.
How do you and your family celebrate and enjoy the Sabbath?
“Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.”
― Mark Buchanan
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Tagged community, contemplative time, family, family time, healthy-living, intention, little inspiration, meditation, presence, present moment, quiet, relaxation, rest, Sabbath, self-care, stress, transformation, Urban Zen
“We believe that it takes a strong back and a soft front to face the world.” Roshi Joan Halifax
Are you being called to serve? Do you have a passion to help your loved ones who may be living with terminal illness? Do you want to work with persons undergoing cancer treatment and be able to offer them comfort? You may have heard me mention Urban Zen here. Urban Zen is the calm in the chaos. Urban Zen Integrative Therapy is a very powerful yet simple way to help people that are dealing with pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation and exhaustion. Let’s face it, all of us at one point or another have suffered from one of these issues. Urban Zen is being offered in hospitals, outpatient centers, rehab and hospice centers, universities, schools as well as, corporations and in other countries. Urban Zen Integrative Therapy is meant to serve as a compliment to modern medicine and it really works. For example, I have worked with patients suffering from nausea and pain at a level 8 on a scale of 1-10 and after 15 minutes of using the Urban Zen modalities, these levels dropped to a 4. The modalities used in Urban Zen are, gentle movements, Reiki, Essential oils, Body scan meditation, Breath awareness and simple breath practices and, Restorative yoga poses. I feel so blessed to have gone through this training and to be doing this work! UZ has changed my life in so many profound ways! I can nurture myself, my family and friends when they are not well. I have developed the ability to be present and, let’s face it, being present for others, to really listen and see someone, is a missing piece in our health care system and in our world. I’m so excited to share this with you as there will be an Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Training this year offered in Columbus, Ohio through Yoga on High. Here is the link to there site and more information about the training. There is an informational conference call on June 3.
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Tagged breath awareness, community, compassion, Essential oils, gentle yoga, health, health care, healthy-living, little inspiration, meditation, mindfulness, presence, reiki, restorative yoga, Roshi Joan Halifax, self-care, Urban Zen
Here we are at week 2 of our Meditation/Mindfulness Journey. This week’s practice is Loving Kindness Meditation or Metta Meditation. Typically with Loving Kindness Meditation we start with offering loving kindness to ourselves followed by our loved ones and then, to persons that are neutral, for example, the grocery store clerk a stranger on the street, finally, we offer loving kindness to people we find it difficult to be around. You could spend a month or more offering loving kindness to yourself if you feel the need or desire. After all, we need to love and accept ourselves truly before we can love others.
How: Find a comfortable position and settle in. Becoming aware of sensations in the body and then noticing your breath. Bring your awareness into your heart, maybe placing your hands on your heart. Silently repeating these phrases or, any that feel more comfortable to you, 2-3 times. As you are ready you can progress to loved ones and so on:
May I be healthy in body and mind
May I be happy
May I live with ease and in peace
According to Jack Kornfield in Meditation for Beginners, Mahatma Gandhi said, “I believe in the essential unity of all beings, and so I understand deeply that if one person gains spiritually, the whole world gains. If one person falls, the whole world falls to that extent.” Kornfield contines, “thus to wish others well or to send loving thoughts and prayers to another is not simply a rote or automatic activity. The practice is based on the effect our thoughts and feelings and actions have on the world around us.”
“When you plant lovingkindess in the garden of your heart and continue to regularly nourish and fertilize it, it will begin to spread and grow.” Jack Kornfield
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“When we take time to quiet ourselves, we can all sense that our lives could be lived with greater compassion and greater wakefulness.” Jack Kornfield
Meditation and mindfulness is spoken of everywhere now. There are multiple studies being conducted on its effects in the corporate world, education, the health care system and the military. Technology is and can be a wonderful tool to communicate world wide and get things done faster. However, it can also lead to higher stress, heavier workloads and disconnection. Meditation and mindfulness offers a tool for living in the present moment. In turn, lowering stress levels and increasing awareness and compassion for self and others.
I invite you to join me and my yoga students on this 28 day journey. I will post a meditation/mindfulness practice each week. We will start with 10 minutes of meditation. I invite you to journal the effects and experiences of your meditation practice. You are welcome to post comments in order to create a community of support.
How? It is ideal to pick a particular time of day but if that does not work for you, choose a time that will. Turn off phones and set a timer for 10 minutes. You can sit or lay down if necessary. Sit on a comfortable seat, either in a chair or on the floor. I encourage you to sit with support under your buttocks to elevate the hips higher than the knees. This posture invites the spine to rest in its natural curves and allows the body to be open for optimal breath space. Once you are comfortable, close your eyes or let the gaze release down, keeping your head in a neutral position with your ears balanced above your shoulders. Notice sounds, then bring your awareness to sensations of your body and the parts of the body that are in contact with your chair or the floor. Then bring your awareness to your breath, not changing the breath.
First Week Theme: “Simply” watch the breath. I say simply as it is not really simple. You will find that your mind wanders and many thoughts often arise. That is okay and normal. Let your thoughts become like clouds passing by in the bright blue vastness of the mind, not becoming attached or getting carried away by them. Keep coming back to the breath and the sensations of the breath at the tip of the nose and inside the body. You could notice the temperature, the texture or maybe the length of the breath. That’s it!
I invite you to notice how this practice begins to affect the rest of your day and your interactions with others. I noticed how my meditation practice allowed me to respond instead of react to my son’s behavior which helped him to calm down more quickly. I also noticed a decrease in my anxiety levels as well.
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Tagged anxiety, breath awareness, community, contemplative time, depression, gentle yoga, health, healthy-living, immune system, listening to your body, little inspiration, meditation, mental-health, mindfulness, Multiple Sclerosis, Real Yoga for MS, self-care, stress, transformation, yoga
I was very inspired by a training I went to this weekend talking about the importance of building a sense of community in our classes as yoga teachers. During my MS Yoga class I was filled with joy because, this class has a very strong sense of community. These folks, get to class even though they are exhausted, some not able to walk, arriving in wheelchairs and others have to rely on family or public transportation to get to class. They come early and chat with one another, never really complaining, but sharing how things are going. At this particular class I had a dear friend and fellow yoga teacher assisting me who loves to sing and got the group singing and laughing. We did our practice with our usual moments of pause and laughter. Many of the students are dealing with exacerbations due to the change in weather and temperatures, therefore, I planned to do a restorative pose before our Savasana. My 2 wonderful dedicated assistants and I went around and offered reiki which is a hands on energy healing practice. As we were doing this I got this wave of joy because this was such a beautiful thing, unconditional loving human touch, something that often is missing in our hectic lives. When the class came to a close there was more laughter and the students glowed and were able to stand a little taller than when they arrived. This class is evidence that yoga is not just asanas, but it is a practice for the mind, body and soul.
“Come out of the circle of time and into the circle of love.” Rumi
These are Hearts of Love made by my dear friend Gail Spirit Sky. Students rest them in their palms to add a sense of weight for deeper relaxation as well as comfort.