I had planned on another post but this post had to be shared. Lately unfortunately, I’ve heard many stories of tragedy. Parents losing children, unexpected loss of loved ones and those living with serious illnesses. My Urban Zen work takes me into hospitals and hospice where I am presented with the reality that with life, comes death. Yesterday I felt an overwhelm of emotion, an enormous sense of gratitude for the health and well-being of my children, my husband and my parents. I sent them love and a thank you to God for my family. I went home and hugged my family tight and offered my full presence. I can get wrapped up in the daily dramas of life so this day served as a reminder of what is truly important. I hope you and your family are well and if not, I hope you find the support that you need. I’m surrounding you all with love and hugs. Have you hugged your children today?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this 4 week Meditation/Mindfulness Journey with me. I hope you have found more ways to be present for your life and those around you. Maybe you’ve found that sitting everyday is a challenge but have found mindfulness in your day to day activities. As a result, you are living with less stress and the increased ability to be more responsive versus reactive with the difficulties that arise in the ups and downs of life. I invite you to continue your Meditation/Mindfulness Journey and, would love to hear in the comment section how it is affecting your life and those around you.
Today or this week, I invite you to do a moving meditation. This can be a yoga practice if you do yoga or, a walking meditation. If walking is a challenge but you are able to walk with the assistance of a cane, I invite you to try walking backwards next to a wall using the wall for support. PLEASE only do this if your doctor says it is okay and if you have support and a friend or loved one near. Walking backwards is helpful for alignment of the pelvis over the legs and, may help you to feel more balanced.
As a side note, my son came downstairs this morning and noted that he heard birds singing, I do believe spring is coming.
“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.”
― Jon Kabat-Zinn
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This week I would like to invite you to try a meditation/visualization practice. After the birth of my daughter, 14 years ago, ( wow, really), I went through a period of my life with high anxiety. This anxiety was keeping me from doing fun things around others and hurting my marriage. I started seeing a psychiatrist that was more open to talk therapy, yoga and meditation. In a session, she invited me to close my eyes and visualize a place where I felt most peaceful and joyful. The first place that came to mind was a beautiful rose park in our town, (I wrote a previous post about this beautiful park https://yogaandinspiration.com/2012/06/). She took me through this park with my senses. I found this practice so helpful and accessible to do on my own when I started feeling overwhelmed. I often used this meditation/visualization while going to sleep which helped me drop into a deeper more restful state of sleep. I invite you to read through this and then sit or lay down and try for yourself. What is your most peaceful place?
See all the colors around you.
Notice any sounds you hear.
Notice the textures around you and, feel the warm sun on your skin or a soft gentle breeze blowing through your hair.
Notice any pleasant aromas in the air.
Observe how calm and peaceful you feel in this favorite place.
Find a place to sit or lay down and rest in this favorite place feeling so relaxed and safe.
May you find comfort with this practice.
The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.
– James Allen
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Mindfulness: Bringing ones complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis, (according to Wikipedia).
My word for 2014 is presence, which to me is being mindful and fully present to each moment of my day as it unfolds. I still find myself worrying about things in the future. However, as I keep bringing my attention back to my intention of being present, I realize that I’m worrying about something that has not happened and may not even happen. Instead of getting carried away by the anxiety and feeling overwhelmed which, has an ill effect on my overall health, I, am retraining my brain to come back to the moment. This retraining creates new neural pathways, (this a whole other blog post). Even if this moment is not a “pleasant” moment I can deal with it much more effectively when I’m present. With presence, I can enjoy my meals, my afternoon tea and cuddling with my children with full attention. With presence I can really see and hear people. Think about it, when was the last time you really felt heard and seen by someone or, really listened and saw someone?
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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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The start of a new year offers a time to reflect on what is working for you and what is not; what thoughts and actions are leading you to your best self. The beginning of a new year opens the door to possibilities. My yoga practice deepens my life experiences and fosters a life lived intentionally. Yoga offers me the tools with which to look inside to discover who I am and my purpose in life. Many use yoga as a form of exercise to tone, stretch and strengthen their body. If this is what you are looking for, you will find it. Yoga can offer so much more as well. A consistent yoga practice can offer relief from physical and mental pain and lead one to potential inner happiness. Maybe you set New Years’ Resolutions every year and find that by the end of the first month you have forgotten about them or thrown in the towel, seeing the “resolutions” as unattainable. I invite you instead to open yourself to the possibilities of what this new year can bring you with small but meaningful changes by giving yoga a try. Yoga is not just for the flexible, (which actually, I’m not naturally flexible). If you can breathe, you can do yoga. Real Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis DVD was created to reach those with MS. However, anyone can benefit from the yoga practices on this DVD. We are offering free shipping and handling for the month of January 2014. Check out this sneak preview of our DVD.
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Tagged change, contemplative time, gentle yoga, happiness, health, healthy-living, hope, intention, life's purpose, listening to your body, little inspiration, mental-health, MS yoga, New Years' Resolutions, partner yoga, possibilities, Real Yoga for MS, self-care, stress, transformation, yoga
Something new and wonderful happened to me this year, I learned to enjoy my alone time! I love to be with people and truly enjoy talking with people, this is how I get energy. I have previously found it difficult to be alone, always making phone calls to connect with people when I found myself alone at home. I personally felt a little rejected when I was alone. This year marked the first year that both my children were in school all day which left me with 6 hours in which no one was home. I am teaching yoga quite a bit so I am with people during these times, however, when I would come home for lunch or have time in the morning I truly savored the quiet. I never turned on the television and would sit at the kitchen window while eating and enjoy the beautiful nature surrounding me. During these quiet times I could become aware of my breath and feel grounded and content. Now that summer vacation is upon me, I am a little mournful that I will have a lot less of this blissful alone time. I know that in order for me to stay grounded and calm I will need to increase my meditation practice and who knows, maybe I can get my children to enjoy some quiet, contemplative time.
Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day – like writing a poem or saying a prayer.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh