spirit, mind, matter

"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." – Ursula K. Le Guin


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Steadfastness

I subscribe to Heart Advice: Weekly Quotes from Pema Chödrön. You can subscribe by clicking here

The quote from this week:

August 27, 2014
STEADFASTNESS
We’re encouraged to meditate every day, even for a short time, in order to cultivate steadfastness with ourselves. We sit under all kinds of circumstances—whether we are feeling healthy or sick, whether we’re in a good mood or depressed, whether we feel our meditation is going well or is completely falling apart. As we continue to sit we see that meditation isn’t about getting it right or attaining some ideal state. It’s about being able to stay present with ourselves. It becomes increasingly clear that we won’t be free of self-destructive patterns unless we develop a compassionate understanding of what they are.

 

Pema Chödrön in A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation: Practical Advice and Inspiration from Contemporary Buddhist Teachers, page 161

 

This teaching came at the perfect time. I have been mentally wavering in my practice. I still practice yoga and meditation daily however, getting started has been the hard part. I will dilly-dally around, play on the internet, do chores, or do any other stalling technique before surrendering. A minute or two in, I’m always so happy I did it, but something about getting started has been difficult lately. 

This is why this quote resonates with me. I know that sitting and practicing under this current weather system of the mind that I’m experiencing, will continue to teach me how to be compassionate with myself under all circumstances. It also keeps me honest in my practice of both yoga and meditation. 

So today, remain steadfast in your practice and continue to cultivate compassion. 

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Wheel of Awareness with Dr. Dan Siegel

I came across an article on Psychology Today  (under the Neuroscience section) called Mindfulness as Integration by Dr. Dan Siegel. In the article, Dr. Siegel discusses the Wheel of Awareness that can be used to help mindfulness practice.  Please read the article.

 

Dr. Seigel has a few resources online that talk about the Wheel of Awareness.

 

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I haven’t experimented with his method, but I am excited to try. Have you heard of this? Please share your experience!

Namaste


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Practical Mindfulness Techniques

I was listening to one of Tara Brach’s podcasts (please check them out if you have any interest in mindfulness, they are amazing), and she was talking about Freedom and Happiness in Daily Life.

The talk was is so good, that I wanted to pass it on to you readers. The talk is under an hour and it is wonderful!

From her website:

Freedom and Happiness in Daily Life (Audio)
How you live today is how you live your life. This talk explores different meditative practices and teachings that help us reconnect with and nurture presence in the midst of the array of daily stressors.

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I hope you can find some time to listen and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.


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The Myth of Perfect Conditions

I was toying with writing an apology post to my readers. A post that  would explain why I haven’t been posting daily; sort of an excuse post.  Each time I started to write it, it made me think about life  and how many of us wait for conditions to be perfect before we do something.

Allow me to explain.  My husband and I moved overseas for his job back in October. Beginning in June, we have had a steady stream of visitors, World Cup antics, and traveling. It has been amazing! We love seeing our friends and family whom we haven’t seen for a year (in most cases), and we love throwing ourselves into travel and local cultural experiences.  With that comes a change in routine and, since we have such limited time with family, a change in priorities.

That said, a daily yoga and meditation practice is important to me. However, I couldn’t maintain it the same way as I can when circumstances are different. I had to be flexible and accept that sometimes things look differently than I think they should. It was a wonderful lesson.

I learned that sometimes a few sun salutations are sufficient. I learned that meditation can be done anywhere, at anytime! It couldn’t be sitting for 20 minutes each day on my cushion. It needed to be in the shower, driving, eating new foods (oh, Spain, I love your food), or simply listening to people talk. All of that counts!  While I won’t stop my long yoga sessions or long meditation sessions, working what I could do into my day made me see how this fits in all areas of our lives.

We don’t need conditions to be “perfect” in order to maintain a yoga or meditation practice. Conditions are never “perfect” and sometimes, a change in conditions can teach us to work with our practice in a different way.

Today’s Opportunity for Mindfulness: Examine if you have any beliefs about your meditation or yoga practice that keep you from practicing.  Look for conditions you place on yourself or your practice and challenge them. Work around them and see if there are other lessons to be learned or ways you can grow from the new experience.

What you do today is what you do with your life!

 

 


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Great Article: Meditation Tips: 6 Meditation Problems That Aren’t Really Problems…

I’d like to share this wonderful article about 6 common meditation problems and how to deal with them.  The things mentioned in this article are all thoughts and experiences I have encountered in meditation that sometimes make it difficult to continue.

It’s a short read and well worth your time!

Meditation Tips: 6 Meditation Problems That Aren’t Really Problems… But Here’s How To Deal With Them Anyway!

 

When it comes to #meditation, it's not about admitting you have a problem. It's realizing there's no problem at all.

 

Namaste!

 

 


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20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today: From Psychology Today

I found a wonderful article on Psychology Today that gives us all 20 scientific reasons to start meditating (complete with links to studies)!

Please go check it out at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201309/20-scientific-reasons-start-meditating-today.

 

Here is a teaser copied from the article:

20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today

New research shows meditation boosts your health, happiness, and success!

I started meditating soon after 9/11. I was living in Manhattan, an already chaotic place, at an extremely chaotic time. I realized I had no control over my external environment. But the one place I did have a say over was my mind, through meditation. When I started meditating, I did not realize it would also make me healthier, happier, and more successful. Having witnessed the benefits, I devoted my PhD research at Stanford to studying the impact of meditation. I saw people from diverse backgrounds from college students to combat veterans benefit. In the last 10 years, hundreds of studies have been released. Here are 20 scientifically-validated reasons you might want to get on the bandwagon today:

 

Here is an infographic the author made:

 

10 Science-Based Reasons To Start Meditating Today (INFOGRAPHIC)

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A Quiet Mind

We all know that meditation teaches us how to quiet the mind. It’s a practice that, when practiced consistently, can help us see our thoughts more clearly and help us to become more aware of our patterns and conditioning.  We learn to separate ourselves from our thoughts about ourselves.  I have  noticed that over the past few years of increased dedication to my meditation practice, that I have been better able to tune in to my intuition.  I saw this quote and I couldn’t agree more.

Intuition is almost like hope. And everybody who knows about the hunger games knows that hope is the only thing that stronger than fear. Listen to the positive rather than the negative for the negative hurts more, and can do more damage than intended.

Today’s Opportunity for Mindfulness:  When faced with a gut feeling, take a few minutes to breathe and notice it. See if, by quieting the mind, you can tune in to the thoughts your having to see if it’s your intuition speaking or some other emotion.


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The Devil on your Back

I love the Florence and the Machine song, Shake it Out. I particularly love the line that says, “It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off.” The more I’ve listened to this song, the more  I found myself wondering what my proverbial devil on my back  was. What is the thing that is keeping me from dancing, from freedom.  I’ve been sitting with that question for a while. Each meditation would revolve around this same sort of sequence.

  • Sit with the breath for a few minutes
  • Allow the thoughts to come and go
  • When a “sticky” thought comes, stay with it, and trace back to where that thought came from. Is there some sort of belief or story under that thought?
  • Honor the feeling, but question “Is this true?”
  • Intend to pay attention in my daily life to where that belief gets me caught in a reactive pattern.

Here is one of my patterns, so you can see how it plays out in a practical way.

  • Sit with the breath
  • Notice thoughts about needing to get things done
  • Allow them to pass
  • Notice that the longer I sit, the more tension I can feel coming up in regards to what I need to get done, planning my day, thinking about the future
  • Trace my thoughts back to see what beliefs I have. This one took a while, a few weeks, but I noticed that there is a deep belief about needing to be productive and check a certain number of things of my list. I notice that the need to check things off my list is preventing me from being in the present moment, not only now, during the meditation, but also in life.  I’ll be eating dinner, and instead of focusing on the flavor of the food, I’m thinking about how after dinner, I’ll wash the dishes, clean the kitchen, and then get a load of laundry in. Before I know it, dinner is gone and I’m not satisfied and I’m rushing to the next thing.
  • Breathe with the feeling. Allow it to be there, but still commit to noticing the breath and allowing the “”check things off the list” mind to be there, as I’m sitting and as I’m experiencing my breath.  Just because I have that thinking, doesn’t mean I have to act on it. 
  • See that patterning, and set an intention to slow down and notice when I’m living in “check it off the list” mind.

It's hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him off! :) You've got the victory ...

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We all have different devils that pop up in our lives, and by taking  a few moments to sit in meditation and investigate, we then allow ourselves the opportunity to practice not reacting to the devil and we create a little more space in our lives to see where that devil pops up outside of our meditation practice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Quick Breathing Meditation

There are so many different ways to meditate.  It can be overwhelming trying to find something that works for you. When my mind is particularly chatty, I like to do breathing meditations where I count my inhalations and exhalations. I learned a version of the following meditation in my yoga teacher training program.  I have found this idea to be a wonderful way to calm my mind, deepen my breath, and come into my body when I’m feeling less able to focus.

 

5 minute meditation that I can actually do

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The version I learned is as follows:

  • Sit comfortably.
  • Start paying attention to the breath
  • After a few breaths, tune in to the inhalation and count until the body wants to exhale.
  • At the last number, retain the breath for a moment, feeling the fullness in the body.
  • Then begin counting through the exhalation, and pause at the end to feel the sensation.
  • Breathe in again and continue the counting meditation, trying not to worry about how long you’re inhaling and exhaling.
  • Try to go with the flow, and change the numbers, not the breath.

Some days, my body likes shorter counts, and some days, it prefers longer counts.  Either way, it’s all good!

Today’s Opportunity for Mindfulness: Try one of these short breathing meditations and see how they feel!