Tag Archives: stress

Sabbath Moments

Sabbath Keeping

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

 

Exhale

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Ahhhh!  Doesn’t that feel better?  This is a time of year when our ‘to do list’ gets longer and longer and we run around practically holding our breath.   Sometimes in Urban Zen we advise a patient/client to notice their exhale.  This can often slow their breath rate and relieve feelings of anxiety.  When we exhale we release CO2 and other toxins and, create space for fresh oxygenated air which feeds our cells.  As we exhale consciously, we can release thoughts that are not serving us in that moment creating spaciousness for the present.   I invite you to take time to exhale.  Maybe you pause several times a day and take 3 conscious breaths allowing your mind to focus on each exhale and feel your feet on the ground.   I wish you and yours a healthy, happy Holiday Season!

Bhramari

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Bhramari (pronounced brah mah REE), which means the “buzzing of the bees” according to Dr. Timothy McCall.  Bhramari is a breath practice that activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the calming nervous system by lengthening the exhalation.  Bhramari can help reduce anxiety and bring one’s focus into the present moment.    I recently taught Bhramari in my prenatal yoga classes.  I often teach them pranayama practices that lengthen their exhalation to bring about a sense of calm as well as relax the muscles of the body.  These practices are helpful in labor as well when a woman needs to stay calm and relax the pelvic floor muscles.   Even if you’re not pregnant, you can still benefit from Bhramari breath.  I invite you to give it a try.

Practice:  Sitting comfortably with the natural curves of the spine, close your eyes if it’s comfortable and feel the parts of the body in contact with the floor, feel the hips resting on their support, and notice your breath moving in and out of your nose.  Inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose making a humming sound.  Repeat maybe 3 more times then, on the last round, cover the ears and feel how the awareness of the vibrations increases.  Sit in silence for a few more breaths noticing the silence.

This is a great practice at the beginning of your meditation session to quiet the mind.  Children enjoy this practice too!

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky.  Conscious breathing is my anchor.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

Put on Your Oxygen Mask First

If you’ve ever flown before, you’ve heard this statement, “In the event of an emergency and the oxygen masks drop down, please put  your mask on first before assisting children or others.”  This serves as a reminder that we need to care for ourselves before we can care for others.  As women, it is part of our nature to be the care-givers of the people in our lives, while also caring for our homes and maintaining a career outside of the home.   We, at least many of us, tend to place our needs and desires last on the list.  I invite you to make a change and “put on your oxygen mask first”!  I often find that, when I take some time for myself, I  have all that much more energy and love to give to my family.   So, make a date with yourself!  Below are some suggestions if you’re at a loss for where to begin.  Enjoy!  Please share in the comment section your self care ideas.

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*Sit outside and read a good book

*Enjoy a cup of tea and some quiet time

*Take a relaxing bath

*Practice yoga alone or take a class with some friends

*Practice some restorative yoga

*Take a walk and be with nature

*Share a meal with friends

*Get a massage

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
Eleanor Brownn

 

 

Parent and Child Yoga Minutes

The truth of the matter is that I have reaped so many benefits from my yoga and meditation/mindfulness practice that yes, I would love for my entire family to practice on a daily basis with me.  I will say, my daughter does enjoy going to class with me when she is not hanging with her friends.  My son well, I think if he could teach the class he would practice yoga.  And my husband would rather play his guitar.  I have discovered a way to incorporate yoga into my son’s life. After attending a 1 day Workshop on Yoga 4 Classrooms in which I received this lovely deck of cards, my son and I started our Yoga Minutes.  In the morning just before going out to the bus stop, he chooses a card or two.  The cards have a pose and a description of how to do the pose as well as benefits of the pose.  There are also various visualizations and breath practices in the deck.  He and I look forward to choosing our card and, giggling always becomes part of the practice too. Another tool for mindfulness in our mornings is an app I have on my phone that I can set to chime at certain times.  When we hear the chime, we stop what we’re doing and take a breath or do wiggly tree.  These Yoga Minutes have proven to be a great way to incorporate mindfulness and yoga into my son’s life and mine.  My hope is that these minutes will provide him with tools for his daily life to manage his emotions and the stresses that children incur in this hectic world of ours.

I would love to hear in the comment section how you and your family incorporate yoga and mindfulness into your lives.

 

yoga cards

 

“Simple practices like conscious breathing and smiling are very important. They can change our civilization.” Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step

Feel Your Feet

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Last night on my way home from work I received a phone call from my husband that he and my children were at the emergency room.  My daughter had fallen and hit her head.  They wanted to be sure she did not suffer a major concussion.  I felt my feet on the gas and floor of my car and said a prayer.  Walking into the hospital, I kept my awareness in my feet feeling the firm ground beneath each step.  When I met up with my family back in the room I told my daughter to feel her feet and I placed my hands on her feet.  She closed her eyes and her breathing slowed as did mine.  When the doctor examined her they thought everything was mild but wanted to do an x-ray of her neck because of her neck pain.  This entire experience was all new to my daughter, luckily, she has never had to go to the hospital.  Once in the lab room for x-rays, I saw her anxiety increase.  I once again told her to press her feet into the chair and she calmed.   I was amazed how calm we both were throughout the entire ordeal.  To all of our relief, everything looked good and we were sent home.  Today she is feeling better and we are all grateful for this new day!  Life is so precious!  These simple words have been the most powerful tool in my life that I learned from my Urban Zen Training.  Whenever I’m feeling anxious or scattered, I feel my feet.  Whether I’m standing or sitting, I bring my attention to my feet and I really notice the firm ground under my feet.  From this planted place, my breath naturally slows and my mind quiets allowing me to think clearer and to be present. When I’m working with a patient or client that is experiencing anxiety, nausea and or exhaustion, “feel your feet” are often the first words out of my mouth.  When we feel our feet, we drop into our body and can immediately feel a sense of connection to the earth and a feeling of calm presence.  Allowing us the ability to proceed with conscious awareness.

Give this a try.  I would love to hear in the comment section below how this affects your life.

“When you take your attention into the present moment, a certain alertness arises.  You become more conscious of what’s around you, but also, strangely, a sense of presence that is both within and without.  Eckhart Tolle

 

Spring Cleaning Week 4

It is popular in our culture to say how busy you are.   As a parent, we can feel pressured to be on every committee and sign our children up for several sports, piano lessons, art lessons and, encourage them to achieve top grades.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I know there are many well intentioned people and parents out there and we are all doing the best we can.  Employers are expecting more work out of fewer people and, with technology, we can stay connected 24/7.  Just writing this, makes me feel a bit anxious and exhausted.  I thrive with a full schedule of teaching yoga but realize I need some down time to be by myself and with my family and friends.  I’m encouraging you and myself to find balance.  Consider your schedule and your children’s schedule if, you have children, and, see what, if anything, can be removed.  What are the things that you dread doing or what activities do you have to beg your children to participate in.  These are the items to extract first.  Then notice how you feel.  Make note in this process of what it is you really want to do and make time for that.  Simplifying our schedule offers us more time to do the things we love and spend time with our family and friends.  I highly recommend Laura Thompson Brady’s Class again this week as she helps you with this process as well.

http://www.thenourishedhome.com/hectic-to-harmonious/

I also recommend the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne for the parents out there.  Have a lovely week.  I hope you have some time to enjoy the Spring weather!

“In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out is not the splashy, blow-out trips to Disneyland but the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime, Saturday morning pancakes.”
Kim John Payne

 

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Spring Cleaning Week 2

Clutter can leave us feeling bogged down energetically as well as mentally.  When I have clutter, I have trouble focusing and getting things done.  I feel a sense of underlying low level anxiety and stress.  I, like many of you, do not have entire days off when I can clean and de-clutter so I’m left with where to start?!  Recently I completed Laura Thompson Brady’s e-course “Hectic to Harmonious”. http://www.thenourishedhome.com/   This course was amazing and really helped me to set small achievable goals.  One part of the e-course was simplifying your home.   She suggested to pick one small corner or one small area and envision what you want it to look like and feel like and de-clutter or reorganize that one small area.  WOW!  This had a huge impact on me and my family’s  energy level and mental health.  I started with bookshelves as I love books.  I reorganized and gave away books that were no longer age appropriate or ones that were no longer of interest to me.  The energy I obtained from this small task encouraged me to continue this process when I had even just 15 spare minutes.  My son’s art table was my most recent project.  This table is in our kitchen and is one of the first things I see when I walk into my home from the laundry room.  It is a “catch-all” for my son.  If he doesn’t want to take the time to put it away, he puts it on the art table.  I found some great ideas on Pinterest for organizing pencils and crayons  and placed a large piece of white paper on the table.  It looks wonderful and it feels so great to walk into my kitchen now.  I invite you to pick one small corner of your home and de-clutter.  I would love to hear how this affects your life!

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Week 4 Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

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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

Week 2 of Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

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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