Posts Tagged meditation
I hope this piece finds you enjoying the beautiful summer. A new month is upon us and with that, I also have a few new things in the works. One being, I will be moving my current blog over to another service. Over the next few postings, I will provide information as to where you can continue to follow me on this journey.
For today’s particular post, I would like to share about my latest project. The LOVE Sangha.
I wear the LOVE tattoo as a means of creating awareness and providing support for friends and family affected by addiction, depression, self-harm and suicide. With several people in my life that battle mental health issues, it is one way I can help bring light to their world.
Statistics tell us:
- That for every alcoholic, 16 people are directly affected. This includes spouses or partners, kids, friends and co-workers, just to name a few.
- In 2012, an estimated 16 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This represented 6.9 percent of all U.S. adults.
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death; homicide ranks 16th.
As someone who attends al-anon and has loved ones whom have experienced major depression, which led to suicide or attempted suicide, I have also found great refuge with meditation. That is why I have created the LOVE Sangha. I chose the word LOVE, as an acronym: Let Others Voluntarily Evolve. One of the most difficult things for those in al-anon to do is let go. We can’t change someone who isn’t willing to do it for themselves. And it is just as important to work on yourself. The LOVE Sangha is not a replacement for a traditional 12-step meeting. Rather, it is a safe space to help you explore a deeper sense of self, as a community. One does not need to be part of any 12-step program or have any experience with meditation in order to participate.
This is a free online forum, which provides anyone from around the world to participate. Using a video conferencing system, it will allow you to participate from any computer, tablet or phone. Having a support system is equally important for those who are effected by mental health.
Please reach out to me directly if you or anyone you know may be interested.
This morning as I sat for my meditation practice, I set an intention of reflection. Within seconds, tears were rolling down my cheeks. 2014 has been filled with a roller-coaster of events and emotions, some more joyous than others.
But the first image that came while sitting was from ten years ago. It was Christmas Eve and I was standing next to my grandfather and surrounded by several family members. We were at the bedside of my Aunt, who was days away from losing her battle to breast cancer. Today marks that day.
And then a picture of the ever so humble man we lost seven years ago, yesterday. I was lucky enough to join him as he was honored by the Navy for his efforts at the Battle of Midway during WWII. At the ceremony, when they announced his name, he made sure his family that was in attendance also be honored. We all stood tall with him.
And then images of 2014 start to float in. It was like popcorn, bursting moments from throughout the year. I was back home, teaching a donation yoga class. Several of my high school classmates joined me, along with family friends. Spending time with my niece and nephew and amazed at how much they have grown, both in size and personality.
Images of being in a hospital and seeing the care doctors and nurses gave someone close to me, making every effort to save their life.
A large smile came across my face as pieces of the Boston Marathon began to float by. There was the pre-race setup of buses ready to take us to Hopkinton. There was a friend jumping into the middle of the road at the halfway mark in Wellesley, arms wide open, ready to give me a hug. With the finish line so close, I stopped at the firehouse where they had lost two brothers just days before. My godmother standing in the grandstand, clapping and cheering me on as I crossed the line.
I was standing on the T (subway lingo for those not familiar to Boston) as I received a text saying my dear friend’s wife had just given birth to beautiful twin boys.
In August I was back on the family farms, yes plural. Walking the property, stepping back in the old barns and chicken coops, thinking about how much bigger they seemed when I was a kid. And then drinking fireball whisky on the golf course with my aunts during our annual family hack n’ whack outing.
There was confirmation the company I had worked for since moving to Boston was sold to its biggest competitor. I was forever grateful to the team I had worked for nearly ten years and now looking forward to new adventures.
Spending time with my mother as she made a fall trip to visit. Taking her to the MFA, the Dali Lama and a Puerto Rican restaurant where they celebrated her birthday with song and dance.
And as the year began to wind down, receiving so many wonderful holiday cards with letters, notes and pictures of loved ones. Not to mention long overdue phone conversations with friends from near and far.
In today’s day and age, many people pull out their camera (usually their phone) to capture moments in time. Most of what I have described above are moments that I can relive whenever I want to or need to. Because they are forever in my heart and soul.
So why the tears, one may ask. I wouldn’t say they were sad or happy tears. They were tears of a culmination of all the emotions I’ve been holding onto. At the end of today’s meditation practice, I felt a great sense of peace. And that is how I would like to end my 2014.
I had a recent conversation with a new friend about my journey into yoga. Nearly ten years ago I started my own practice as a way to supplement all the physical work I was putting my body through training for triathlons. My muscles were tight, my posture was compromised and my mind was a bit chaotic. Through yoga, much of that changed.
Fast forward a few years, I attended my first 200 hour training. Here I learned much more in-depth about philosophy, the eight limbs, meditation, sequencing, anatomy and the asanas (the physical practice). This training set a strong foundation in what I do and how I approach my own practice and as an instructor.
We tend to over stretch where we are bendy and collapse where we are dense. Finding correct alignment rather than always taking the path of least resistance is a challenge. So this is where we set the foundations for future poses. Simple doesn’t always mean easy. Learning to breathe. Creating space. Taking time. Allowing ourselves to really explore. Instead of using the body to get into a pose, use the pose to get into our body….
During the conversation I had with my friend, I said that I still was not super flexible and that’s why I teach beginners. I love teaching to students who come to their mat for the very first time and can be in the same room as someone who has been practicing for 20 years. Taking a basics yoga class is something we all need.
I think it’s great that people try to challenge themselves with new and more difficult poses. But at the end of the day, a true yogi will say, “Great if I can, Great if I can’t.”
The pics below are me exploring off the mat at Mt.Chocorua in New Hampshire.
As many of you know, a lot of my focus lately has been toward meditation. Whether it is spending more time sitting, reading books and articles or attending retreats. Lately it has become much easier and more inviting to meditate on a regular basis. I contribute much of that to having more focus, a purpose as to why I practice meditation.
Yesterday morning I had some free time so I decided to lift weights rather than sit. I knew that it was a shorter period of time than I typically allow for lifting and showering before my next client. Once I was on the fitness floor, I started wandering around, going through some basic movement patterns, warming up. Because it was busy, I was moving without purpose. I tried to stay clear of members and other trainers working with clients. But something felt off, disconnected.
I realized I was just showing up, going through the movements, all without purpose. I immediately put down a dumbbell, walked over, pulled out my program card and wrote down ten exercises. Once committed to the purpose, my workout shifted from disconnect to focus.
When eating, really take a moment and eat with purpose. While walking down the street, pay attention to how the body moves and feels. If you’re having a conversation with someone, look them in the eye and show them you are truly there.
It is important to remember that whatever we do, do it with purpose.
I began reading a new book, Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham. This is a great read for me, as I am less than 70 days from running the Boston Marathon. Early in the book, he talks about the importance of building a base. This goes for both the body and the mind.
Building a base is a process of taking what you have and gradually increasing the ability. Whether it is running, meditating, learning a new sport and coming back from being away for a while, building a base is essential. Creating a strong foundation on stability, strength, flexibility, mobility and stillness provide integrity.
When I began meditating on a regular basis a few years ago, I started with just a few minutes at a time. Since then, I have been able to build up sixty minutes of quality sitting time. With running, it started with a few short runs, and now I am consistently in the double digits for mileage.
Too many people want to get from point A to point Z without creating a strong foundation. By doing so, it increases the risk of injury, disinterest, and possibly failure. Taking the body and mind through regular, familiar and repeated sessions allows for room to increase your ability.
Often we burn out because we have added too much time, resistance or energy too quickly. A great indicator of burnout is your level of enjoyment. When the activity you are doing becomes a constant struggle or grind, scale back a bit and see what happens.
Lay the foundation and build your base. This will lead you on a more fulfilling and gratifying journey.
Today is the beginning of a new month, which means a new healthy habit to create. During the month of February I will challenge myself to sit. When I first came to meditation I found it to be very difficult. More-so because I had a hard time physically sitting still. After several years, I have found that depending on how my body is moving for that day will determine my shape. There are many things I notice about myself when I have a regular meditation practice. I tend to be more responsive than reactive. There is a greater awareness of my words and actions. My physical body feels different.
There are many great benefits to meditation. A few include-
Lowers oxygen consumption
Decreases respiratory rate
Increases blood flow and slows the heart rate
Increases exercise tolerance
Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation
Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate
Decreases muscle tension
Increased brain wave coherence
Improved learning ability and memory
Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation
Increased emotional stability
Mind ages at slower rate
Easier to remove bad habits
Even with all these great benefits, many people have a resistance to mediation. They feel like it’s a waste of time, they can’t sit still for periods of time, they feel too stressed and countless other reasons to avoid meditation. The great news is that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Take a look at some different types of mediation.
- Simple Meditation
It is one of the best meditation types that one can start with if one is not accustomed to sitting for long time period focusing on some particular object. You can choose a clean and peaceful place where you can spend 10-20 minutes in silence. Gradually, as you gain more control on your mind and senses, you can increase this time-duration.
- Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation is known as Vipassana, and is practiced by Buddhists among many meditation types. The meditation type involves practicing to be aware about the things that you do and the things that happen around you at the very moment.
- Vibrational Meditation
This meditation type involves repetition of a particular word or a sound that becomes the focal point of the meditation. The vibrations that are produced from the word or sound pass through your body. You have to do concentrate on nothing else, but to chant that word or produce the sound again and again. It is one of the most different among various meditation types.
- Breath and Navel Meditation
It is the oldest one recorded in China as well as in India and one of the most famous among other meditation types. It involves control over breath through different breathing techniques. You need to sit in a relaxed posture and concentrate on your breath, nostrils, or even on your abdomen.
- Body Scan Meditation
Body scan meditation is very useful for people who do not have any time for other meditation types. You just need to lie down and focus on your body parts right from your toe to your hair.
For the month of February, I challenge both myself and you to meditate every day. Even if it’s just sitting at your computer desk, closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Find a few moments every day to be still. I am beginning with 10 minutes per day and will work up to 60 minutes by the end of the month.
Come February 28th, if you have created a consistent practice, I guarantee you will see a difference. Join the 28 Day Challenge.
The above picture is a great example distinguishing the difference between chaos and clarity. I often speak about being mind full verse mindful. There are many people who feel being able to juggle or multitask several things at once helps them become more efficient. In the short-term, this may be true. However, I strongly feel at some point, there will be dis ease, either in the physical body or the mind.
Our minds can be compared to a computer. When a computer is on and has many programs open such as Power Point, iTunes, Excel, Google and Outlook, the computer starts running much less efficiently. It is having to work hard just to keep things in order and from shutting down. The same can be said for our minds. The long “to-do” list of laundry, grocery shopping, picking kids up from school, social engagements, etc, our mind becomes scattered. We become forgetful, less efficient. As we begin to close programs on the computer or mark things off our to-do list, there is more ease in our life. Our thoughts, actions, movements and communication with ourselves and others is done so with clarity.
Here are a few examples of bringing more mindfulness to your life-
- When sitting down to eat, do just that. Avoid tv, reading the paper, checking your email. Take time to enjoy your meal.
- Allow yourself to be quiet and still, free from all distractions for five minutes every day. If need be, sit in your bedroom with the door closed, turning off all electronics.
- Pay more attention to what is going on around you.
My wish is that we all become a little more mindful.