Tag Archives: stress

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

28 Day Meditation/Mindfulness Journey

“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

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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.

Possibilities!

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.

Inhale, Exhale, Pause

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Filling up, emptying, stillness.  Taking in, letting go, bliss.  This powerful breath practice has fostered me through many moments of restlessness and anxiety.  This time of year can be difficult for me and when it is time to go to sleep even though, I’m sleepy, my mind starts to race.  I turn to this breath practice to calm my mind and relax my nervous system.  It is in the pause that I find a moment of absence of thought, freedom from fear, a moment of relief.  When the practice is repeated, it culminates into several moments of inner peace and allows me to drift into a deep sleep.  In the pause, I can be in the now, in the present moment.  Which I know this is the only moment I have, the only moment any of us have.  When you lay down to sleep or any time you find your mind racing, I invite you to notice your breath and notice the pause between the exhalation  and the inhalation, not a holding of your breath, just a natural pause.   Notice the stillness, the peace.

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

Yoga in Parenting

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I’m a mother of 2.  One of my children is an 8 year old boy who is a very spirited and intense child.  He is very creative, smart and funny.  He can carry on a  conversation like an adult.  Along with his wonderful qualities he has an intense personality.  He wants things to go as he sees them in his mind and when he is told “no” or that it is time to clean up, he swirls out of control,  like a Tasmanian devil.  Do not get me wrong, I love him dearly and know that some of this intensity will help him be a successful adult but, when he is mad, he is mad and loud. Very loud!  My body cannot deal with this.  My shoulders tighten and I want to yell back, which does not help either of us.   I found a very useful tool that I want to share with all the other parents that may have similar situations or who are simply looking for a tool to calm down before they respond to their children.    Many articles or parenting books advise us to take 3 deep breaths before responding when we are upset.  Sometimes this works but I’ve learned that my body needs to move to dispel the energy and find focus; maybe much like my son.  Instead, I found that 3-5 mini “vinyasas” have helped me so much.  Sometimes I walk to another room or sometimes I do them in his presence, hoping to encourage him to try it and to notice how calm mommy is.  Granted this is not so useful in the grocery story in which case, the 3 deep breaths are doable.

Here are the steps in my  mini yoga session:  Standing in Tadasana, (mountain pose), inhale reach arms out to the sides and up, exhale fold forward with bent knees, place hands on your shins, inhale up half way to a long spine, exhale fold over again.  Inhale sweep arms out to the sides and come all the way up with a long spine.  Exhale arms to the sides and repeat.

“If you can control your behavior when everything around you is out of control, you can model for your children a valuable lesson in patience and understanding…and snatch an opportunity to shape character.”
Jane Clayson Johnson, I Am a Mother