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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Our True Nature

Our true nature is like a precious jewel: although it may be temporarily buried in mud, it remains completely brilliant and unaffected. We simply have to uncover it. Pema Chödrön

 

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Meditation offers us the opportunity to explore or true nature. Take a few moments today, and all throughout the week to see if you can uncover your true nature.

 

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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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Addictive Doing

My favorite story was told by Tara Brach on her latest podcast

Hindu teacher Swami Satchidananda was asked by a student if he needed to become a Hindu to go deeply into the practice of yoga. Satchidananda’s response was, “I am not a Hindu, I am an undo.”

 

Meditation is a great way to de-condition the “doing-mind.”

If you’re anything like me, you notice the weather system of “doing” and how it permeates your day. I know, for me, the “doing” self often masks uncomfortable feelings and anxiety. I also notice that my ego can be hitched to getting things done. Thankfully, Tara Brach talks about this in her latest podcast. Take an hour or so and listen to her podcast. 

From her website: 

One of the core domains of egoic trance is addictive doing – chronic activity driven by fear and wanting that keeps us from realizing a wholeness of Being. This talk looks at how addictive doing keeps us in the map of time, identified as a separate self, always on our way somewhere else. We then explore ways we undo this conditioning by pausing and opening to the liberating dimension of Being.  

 

You can listen on iTunes, clicking here, or visiting her website

Today’s Opportunity for Mindfulness: Take a pause, arrive in the moment, and set the intention to un-do the conditioning of busy-ness. 


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“Tell” vs. “Allow”

Maybe it’s me, but have you ever experienced that moment in yoga class where a teacher tells you to, “just relax” or “let it all go.”  As if it were that easy! “Why, SURE, I’ll just RELAX! Easy!!”

(I know, that’s terrible, but it’s also kind of funny…)

Maybe it’s me, and I have a tendency to be all up in my head about things, but sometimes, when I hear someone say “just relax” it gives me the icks. I was thinking about this after I attended a yoga class a few months ago. The teacher was barking out orders in savasana (or at least, that’s what it sounded like in my head, I’m sure it was absolutely lovely and normal but my mindset wasn’t having it) with “relax your feet, relax your legs, relax your knees, relax your knee caps …..” fill in everything under the sun. By the time she was done talking, savasana was over and all I was thinking about was how I couldn’t get my thighs to relax.  I felt defeated. I felt like a bad yogi.  I felt like a failure.

I knew all that wasn’t true.  I know how to make peace with those thoughts that are very real, but not true.  I started digging deeper.  What was it about the perfectly normal savasana cues that gave me such a strong reaction?

I thought about it, meditated about it and realized that I felt invalidated. As if holding tension wasn’t allowed and I was messing up for something I couldn’t control.

So, what could give me the sense of validation that I needed?  Why did I need it?  I went directly to my favorite meditation teacher, Tara Brach, (please google her, read all her books, and listen to all of her podcasts).  I never have those negative thoughts  while listening to her podcasts or meditations. I started investigating why.  If you hear her speak, you will hear words like “soften, notice any residual tension, allow, let it be, allow it to be as big as it wants, give it permission to be there, give it permission to leave…” All of these validating words that don’t imply that there’s something wrong with me if I simply “can’t” relax in a certain moment.

Yoga is a practice of surrender. We surrender to the body and breath as we practice our moving meditation.

As a yoga teacher, I’ve started really watching my words as I teach. I too, am guilty of the occasional “relax” or “let it go” but I have set a very focused intention with language while I’m teaching.  I also noticed that using more positive, passive, and allowing vocabulary, has helped me ease up on myself. I’m not so hard on myself if I’m having one of those days, I’m more likely to practice ahimsa with myself. I can honor any sensations in my body and allow them to be, rather than trying to force them to leave.  Sometimes, that weather in the body, is trying to teach us something. Sometimes it’s best to allow it to be, and then allow it to leave- when it’s ready.  Did you get that? Not when WE are ready for it to leave, but when IT is ready.  The body doesn’t like being forced into what the mind/ego is creating, the body likes to be and live in it’s own intelligence.  It’s time to tune in.  I hope that the subtle change in vocabulary in class will help the type-A students tap in to a bit of kindness towards themselves and learn to surrender, rather than fight natural human conditioning.

There is a big difference between telling and  allowing.

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Today’s Opportunity for Mindfulness: Notice your language to yourself and others. Are you barking orders at yourself all day then beating yourself up when your mind or body aren’t complying to your demands? Or, are you using gentle vocabulary with yourself that will carry over to others that you spend your time with?  Which will you choose?

 


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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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Look Around

 

“Every day, I stop halfway through my run for five minutes, look around, and enjoy the surroundings. I’m reminded of why I do this and why I love it so much.” -Anita Ortiz

It's the little moments that make life big. Beautiful.

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As we move through today and this weekend, let us all remember to take the time to stop, look around, enjoy our surroundings, and be reminded of all of our blessings.

Namaste! ❤

AsAnita Ortiz


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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 Best Advice I Ever Received

My husband and I have started training for another half marathon.  I’ve lost count of how many we’ve already run in the past 5 years, but it’s somewhere in the 20’s.  I’ve also run 2 full marathons.  However, last year was a light year as far as races go, so I’m a little out of practice when it comes to runs longer than 4 miles.  Yesterday, we had our first 5 miler.  Running here is in Germany is very different than running in South Florida (where we lived for the past 8 years).  There are hills! We were doing a new run yesterday and it was quite hilly. My mind was spinning and spinning. All that I kept thinking about was how much farther we had to run up this hill, how hot it was, how tired I was, how long the stupid hill was (it was a 2.5 mile out and back and the way back was almost all uphill). I just couldn’t get out of my head.

Then, I paused. I remembered.

Well, I didn’t stop, but I remembered the best advice I ever received: You don’t have to believe your thoughts.

Taking a lesson learned from meditation and yoga, I stepped out of my head and into my body. I could hear the chatter still going on in my mind, but I chose to not believe it, and instead listened to what my body was telling me.  My body told me that my legs were fine, in fact, they felt strong. I checked my breathing, and  it was smooth and even. I checked in with my arms and shoulders, they were relaxed. I checked in with my heart, and it was beating at my normal long run rate.

I realized then that I was fine! I wasn’t tired and my body felt strong and relaxed. I could make it. All body signs pointed to yes, keep going. You’re feeling great!” It was only my head that was in the way.  Oh, the DRAMA in my head.  I laughed at myself and  I finished the run nice and strong.

Silkscreened Print via Etsy.

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How many times do our minds and thoughts go against what we truly feel?

Today’s Opportunity for Mindfulness: When the mind starts to spin in stories and thoughts, take a moment to check in with the body and see if what the mind is thinking is actually true, or if it’s just the drama of thoughts.

 


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Transitions

In Mysore practice this morning, my teacher came to me and said, “you’re going to hate me, but…” Gotta love when conversations start like that. 🙂 I assured her that I would not hate her and to please let me know what I was doing.  After all, that’s why I go to her! She said that she had noticed that I have a bit of a habit for rushing through transitions and losing focus. She explained that when I do that, without paying attention to my body and alignment, that’s when injuries happen and I lose that focus and energy I’m creating in my practice. I could have finished her thoughts for her, for this is not new information.   That part of me, the awake part in me, the part that is aware of my patterns and karmic tendencies just nodded and smiled.

 

I kind of shook my head, smiling, and said, “yeah, I know. I’ll work on it.”  I honestly had to laugh. It seems as though my yoga mat is a very clear mirror for what I experience in meditation and what I’ve noticed about myself in mindfulness practice.  So yes, I know I have a tendency to rush and not pay attention to transitions. It’s been happening my whole life.  It’s the main reason I am clumsy, break things, and have many little accidents.  I became aware of this pattern a few years ago and have noticed that in times of relative easy circumstances, I don’t have as much of a problem with it. However, in times of perceived chaos (emotional or circumstantial), it is more pronounced.

 

Seeing as I’ve noticed this pattern emerging again, and my teacher sees it too, I know that I need to pay more attention to slowing down, doing one thing at a time, and moving through things with ease rather than barging through everything like a bull in a china shop.  It is against all of my natural tendencies, to calm down and take things one at a time, when I’m feeling stressed or anxious. But I know that like attracts like and the only way to move through this is to do something different.

I found this picture of a peaceful buddha holding a blossom on dipity.com. It reminds me to meditate.

So, for today, tomorrow, this week, and hell, this life. I am setting the intention to go a little more slowly and trust that all is coming, even in the transitions.

 


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Mantra

Many people find mantra to be a wonderful gateway into meditation. Repeating a word or phrase while you meditate can keep you focused and grounded in your experience.  Some people use Sanskrit, Bible verses, prayers, or inspirational quotes.  Others like to use a simple sentence that comes into their head. Whatever you choose is fine! There is no right or wrong.

Today, I encourage you to try repeating a simple mantra in your meditation practice. Here’s a great one I found online!

this weeks Mindful Mantra: I COME FROM A PLACE OF GRACE  http://www.brainbodybeauty.com/post/monday-mantra-i-come-from-a-place-of-grace

 

Try sitting for a few minutes and repeat, “I come from a place of grace” with attention on your breath. How does it feel? Try repeating it on your head, or out loud and see if your experience changes.