Archive | January 2015

Mindful Monday Musings

Fresh impression of the art of mindful living taught by Thich Nhat Hanh and practiced by friends in Plum Village, France.

This clip is a beautiful preview of the 40 minute movie, “Mindful Living Every Day”. Available, along with an additional 40 minutes of guided meditations and “Each of My Steps is a Prayer”, on DVD. Deer Park & Plum Village with English and Spanish soundtracks.

Look for it at Parallax Press
http://www.parallax.org/cgi-bin/shopp
Also….. Pachamama teaches us about Mindful Monday so as a part of Living my Yoga practice in 2015 I have chosen to be more mindful every day. There is never a better time than now to start practicing this truth so I am going back to my very foundations this year and diving in deeper into what mindfulness means to me personally. Both as a student, a teacher, and as a caregiver to my mother who just celebrated her 87th birthday and is experiencing declining health due to her age..

Being Mindful isn’t about sitting in one place all day meditating peacefully instead of going in to work or staying in bed all day instead of playing with your children. When we focus on the things we don’t want to do it raises our stress hormones and if allowed to build up in our bodies these cortisol levels can wreck havoc on our immune system and can cause adrenal fatigue if not controlled.

Being Mindful means using your internal guide to find something beautiful to appreciate on your way to work or finding something memorable and magical about your child as you play with them instead of focusing on their hyperactivity etc… and on how tired you might be as you play with them.

Focus on your awareness in the moment, maybe it might be on the beautiful flowers you pass on the way to work or on your child’s eyes when the light makes them twinkle like stars. Mindfulness is observing the world around you. Ask yourself a question if you need a first step “What am I doing right now?” “I am reading these words.” is a good place to start. Check in with yourself often.

If you are feeling rushed and angry in a traffic jam on your way to work you could instead of reacting angrily like you normally would, just repeat the mantra “I am sitting in traffic right now.” “I am turning the wheels now.” “Traffic is starting again now.” in order to disconnect the ego from the traffic jam.

You can even make a small haiku out of your day similar to this one:

Flowers at work
people passing by
brings me to back
to my state of mind

or if you are very angry at someone make a silly haiku. It doesn’t have to make sense to work.

I am angry as a rhino
that plays in the mud
he has thick skin
and wears a bird hat
When I first came to Buddhism I worried a lot. I cried a lot. I worked 2 jobs and didn’t know how to Meditate. I focused too much on the future and not enough on the here and now by just letting things be as they are.
As a creature of habit I always wanted to make my surroundings better by making the bed, sweeping the floor, doing the dishes (even at midnight) so I had no idea what genuine relaxation was.

Over the years I developed a wonderful patience that I never knew I could create through finding stillness. Anyone can create this same stillness.

May you be Well.
May you be Happy.

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30 Day Yoga Challenge

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During the last 18 days I joined the 30 Days of Yoga Challenge and it has been amazing! A great way for me to get back on the mat!

It has kept me in tune with my body and it has had a wonderful impact on keeping myself accountable for what it is that I am eating and at snack time.

As you know from a couple of my posts my problem with committing fast food sin in 2013 was really high. In 2014 I tried a 30-60-90 day salad challenge and have stuck with it for majority of the year and am still doing it currently for lunch every day because it has made such a powerful impact on my health. *I am uploading pics of my salads on instagram to add support and accountability to the salads I am choosing instead of junk food so they aren’t just another thing added to my meal time every day. And I want to show people that it is perfectly okay to eat salads! And I have found a hundred different ways to make them every day.

The biggest part of my 2015 goal is to forgive myself and move forward with my life. By keeping myself accountable for what I eat my health is doing very good. I am so proud of my willpower!

This year my word is Forward as to move out of the cycle of repetition from the past and push myself forward to my limits where my health is concerned..

I have some new hopes and dreams/goals as to complete a marathon and after a few minor details are finished as per my doctor health wise it will be a done deal. This year is totally about making my dreams come true. I have been off the mat since taking a few other courses ~besides~ my Yoga Teacher 500 Training.

Trying to cram for the essay part and the book and studying part plus combining the other courses has really been kicking my bootie but the results will be worth it.

When I first started with a Reiki and Yoga Lifestyle in 1999 people said a lot of things living in the back woods part of the Bible belt such as “Well, it is a nice idea but Reiki isn’t really a thing you can sell to people.” and “Meditation is only for Buddhist monks, nobody here would pay for that kind of stuff.” so I allowed these negative beliefs from others to block my creativity and my efforts for starting my own studio but I stuck with it.

So How was your Christmas Lovelies?

Christmas has always been a time that opens us up.  For the good and for the bad.

It allows our vulnerable parts to show.

Whether it be from feeling the capacity to love others as we love our self, or it can be through a challenge or the loss of a loved one or taking refuge from the hustle and bustle of family that can come for special celebrations like dinner parties.

Occasionally these gatherings don’t make us feel good at all or they can cause us to lose sight of our inner Buddha nature. They can promote feelings of unexplained jealousy, anger, inadequacy, or the rehashing of old an argument with family members or old relationships suddenly brought to light that may need dealt with.

During the New Year’s Season it is the perfect time for Meditation.

Taking a few steps back from the Black Friday rush, or the crowds, and our anxious mind or body to feel the feeling of peace and aliveness within our body.

Many people feel terrible health wise right after the Holidays and mindfulness can certainly help.

Centering your heart. Being open to the universe. Forgiving yourself for what you ate or what you spent over the Holidays.

Doing daily body scans to connect and find any place within that might be holding on to some light tension, vulnerability, pain, doubt, anger, or fear.

If you find an area in your body like this send it love. Touch the area gently and see if it evokes a memory or feeling that is trapped.

When I am rushed my heart beats fast and my chest hurts. I sit down with my breath and place my hand over my heart and sense the feeling of fear that comes up when this happens.

I take a few deep breaths and center myself, telling my heart “thank you for beating today. It’s okay to slow down.” and stay in the feeling for a few minutes instead of trying to keep going with the anxious feelings.

This can lessen the inner chatter that is so frequent this time of the year. This time of the year has always been about those pesky New Year’s Resolutions.

And instead of focusing on them this year and the old anxious way of thinking about what you didn’t get done last year, think instead about the things that you desire fully in your life this year.

What do you yearn for in your life?

How do you want to feel right now?

What would make the rest of the day perfect for you?

What do you need to do right now to feel good?

How can you make these little day dreams or prayers come true?

After this mini connection to your dreams and your body scan do you feel the light and warmth now surrounding you?

How will you receive these gifts of loving care from the universe as you dissolve into a feeling of receiving from the universe?

Let go of rushing and live in this moment. Feel your awareness growing and counterbalancing the negative self talk and doubt that may surface during this connection with your body, your breath, and your spirit.

For those of you that have never Meditated before…

Meditation refers to a state where your body and mind are consciously relaxed and focused.

Practitioners of this beautiful art know that there is an increased awareness, focus, and concentration, as well as a more positive outlook in life when meditating.

Meditation is most commonly associated with Buddhist monks, mystics and other spiritual disciplines, as well as daily practitioners.

However, you don’t have to be a Buddhist monk or mystic to enjoy the benefits. And you don’t even have to be in a special place to practice it.

You could even try it in your own living room while sitting on a yoga mat or pillow. Although there are many different approaches to meditation, the fundamental principles behind it remains the same.

The most important among these principles is that of removing obstructive, negative, and wandering thoughts and fantasies, and calming the mind with a deep sense of focus.

This inner silence clears the mind of debris and prepares it for a higher quality of activity. If you are a Reiki practitioner you can also connect to Reiki during your meditation time.

The negative thoughts you have – those of Holiday stress and drama, past drama, noisy neighbors, social media scuffles, bossy office-mates, that parking ticket you got, and unwanted spam– are said to contribute to the ‘polluting’ of the mind, and shutting them out is allows for the ‘cleansing’ of the mind so that it may focus on deeper, more meaningful thoughts.

Some practitioners even shut out all sensory input – no sights, no sounds, and nothing to touch – and try to detach themselves from the commotion around them.

You may now focus on a deep, profound thought if this is your goal. Sometimes I use a simple dollar tree sleeping eye mask to keep myself from “peeking” out while meditating. It helps me focus instead of looking out the window.

It is okay to experiment with Meditation. The silence may seem deafening at first, if you are unaccustomed to it since we are all too used to constantly hearing and seeing things, and too much input but as you continue this exercise you will find yourself becoming more aware of everything around you in the room and less on what is outside the window.

Soon you will be able to focus only on what is inside of you and be able to shut out the rest of the world when you sit down to practice in silence.

If you find the meditating positions you see on television threatening – those with impossibly arched backs, and painful-looking contortions or poses can create feelings inside of us of inadequacy, but you need not worry.

The principle here for this practice is to be in a comfortable sitting position conducive to concentration. This may be while sitting cross-legged, standing, lying down, and even walking if you choose to do a meditative walk.

Anything that involves you with your breath. If the position you choose allows you to relax and focus, then that would be a good starting point.

There is no strict protocol here.

While sitting or standing, the back should be straight, but not tense or tight. In other positions, the only hindrance is slouching or falling asleep because if your body is exhausted then it is already crying out for rest or a good nap.

If this happens take the nap then meditate once you have awakened fully. Otherwise you could keep nodding off and this will hinder your practice for this session.

Comfortable clothes help a lot in the process since tight fitting clothes have a tendency to choke you up and make you feel even more tense.

The place you perform meditation should have a soothing atmosphere. It may be in your living room, or bedroom, or any place that you feel comfortable in.

You might want an exercise mat if you plan to take on the more challenging positions (if you feel more focused doing so, and if the contortionist in you is screaming for release).

You may want to have the place arranged so that it is soothing to your senses.

You may want to do a light yoga stretch before sitting to relax your muscles and joints. I often find yoga stretching before meditation a great way to relax my body while being fully present.

Silence helps most people relax and meditate, so you may want a quiet, isolated area far from the ringing of the phone or the humming of the washing machine or dryer.

You can say something like “I am going to practice silence now.” so you can work your way into setting the mindset of silence a few minutes before hand.

Pleasing scents also help in relaxing in your chill zone, so stocking up on aromatic candles or incense to help focus the mind on your silent practice and is also a wonderful idea. Something soft like ocean calm, clean laundry, or floral scents work best instead of anything food scented like strawberries or watermelon that may make you focus on food and eating instead of on the calming beach waves type of Mp3.

The Buddhist monks you see on television making those deep guttural sounds are actually performing their mantra.

This, in simple terms, is a short creed, a simple sound which, for these practitioners, holds a mystic value. It can be a simple word repeated over and over again such as Ommmmmmm or it can be a sound that reverberates through the chakra system opening up your chakra centers to bring further bodily healing.

Again it’s totally up to you. You don’t need to perform such a task on your first time sitting silently; however, it would pay to note that focusing on repeated actions such as breathing, and humming help the practitioner enter a higher state of consciousness.

You don’t want to eat spicy foods or anything that may give you heartburn or gas or make your tummy rumble during your session because once you surrender to the silence it can be very distracting to frequently burp (or toot) so it is better to eat light or wait until after you meditate to eat in order to avoid this heavy or full feeling in your stomach that may also tempt you to fall asleep during your practice.

The principle here is focus. And to find stillness. You could also try focusing on a certain object or thought, or even, while keeping your eyes open, focus on a single sight right in front of you a couple of feet out. Some people use the word Smile as it has a nice feeling of happiness when repeated silently in the mind. And it helps bring more awareness to your smile.

One sample routine would be to use Yoga nidra or “yogi sleep” is a sleep-like state which yogis report to experience during their meditations.

Yoga nidra, a lucid sleeping state is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness. (Lucid dreaming is an unrelated phenomenon.)

The distinguishing difference is the degree to which one remains cognizant of the actual physical environment as opposed to a dream environment. In lucid dreaming, one is only (or mainly) cognizant of the dream environment, and have little or no awareness of our actual environment. While in a meditative state – silently name every part of you body very slowly and focusing your consciousness on that part of you as you speak.

Such as “Wrist” as you focus your attention on your wrist then pause to connect to that part of your body while sending it love, then taking a breath or two before moving to the next area.

Moving down to “Fingers” as you place your concentration on your fingers then pause again to connect then release your breath before moving on. While doing this you should be aware of any tension or pain in any part of your body.

Mentally visualize releasing this tension and sending love and kindness to the area as you breath and connect. It works wonders.

In all, meditation is a relatively risk-free practice because your not exerting yourself and its benefits are well worth the effort (or non-effort – remember we’re relaxing).

It is so much better than being overbooked and being trapped in overdrive all the time. Meditation helps repair the nervous system and this helps us to let go of things that no longer serve us for our highest good. That’s really what a New Year’s Resolution is all about. Making changes you can live with permanently.

Studies have shown that meditation can bring about beneficial physiologic effects to the body.

And there has been a growing consensus in the medical community to further study the effects of such. So in the near future, who knows, that mystical, esoteric thing we call meditation might become a science itself! All of us Metaphysical junkies are hoping so!

All people can benefit from a Meditation practice.

The most important thing is going at your own pace. Sitting in silence can be hard for some people that have constant stimuli around them (such as a busy home or work area) so continuing to go at your own pace is the key to Meditation.

Your friend may be a Zen Master but you can only commit to doing a few minutes per day. That’s perfectly okay too.

Here are some general ideas for establishing a Sitting Practice.

1. Finding the time to Meditate.

2. Finding the Location to Meditate.

3. Finding the mindset to commit to a sitting practice daily.

4. Not being disturbed once you start the practice.

5. Knowing what you will focus or not focus on while sitting.

6. Remembering why you are doing this practice. (Stress relief.)

7. What’s happening outside of us is much less important than what is happening inside of us.

8. Don’t judge your experience on how good or bad you are feeling during your practice.

9. Don’t give up after only one time. If you don’t succeed at first try and keep trying again another day.

10. Don’t let your mind get highjacked by the phone, friends and family, or the microwave.

Be safe and well.