Tag Archives: Meditation

Alternate Gravity Environments, Little Romeos… & Yoga!

Not sure what is in the air, but today was awesome. Tuesdays usually bug the heck out of me because I have no prep and my kids go a little stir crazy in my room from 11:40 to 3:15. I try to get them outside for a bit, but that doesn’t always do the trick.

Today we went outside to measure how far we can jump in order to calculate how far we could jump in alternate gravity environments. They loved imagining how they would float more than six times as far on the moon or sink like an anchor on Jupiter.

And, one of my all-time favorite kid quotes emerged from the day:

“Mrs. M, Mrs. M!”

“Yes?”

“If a girl ever says she’s into bad boys, I’ll just tell her I stay up past my bedtime!”

Instant classic.

I don’t think the day was fundamentally less stressful than any other, I just did a good job of centering myself and being present. Maybe it’s the upcoming break, maybe it’s all the yoga and meditation, who knows, but I’ll take it!

Speaking of yoga, I came home to two little gems: 1. A surprise yoga magazine from Alex’s trip to Whole Foods, 2. A yoga book a yoga-teaching friend recommended. Talk about excitement. I spent the first half of my evening reading on my yoga mat, (which, I might add is a great way to stretch and read simultaneously…).

Grateful for a good day and looking forward to an inspiring, productive, transformative winter break and 2013.

Only an hour or so in but already on the recommend list...

My aunt recently asked how I have time to read so many books… Sad answer, I have book ADHD… I read multiple books simultaneously, resulting in slow completion times but exposure to a lot of great information. There is just too much good stuff to read in the world. I’m adding these reads to my yoga recommendation list.

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Yin Yoga, Light & Meditation

Lying on my mat in a warm, dark room filled with meditating Yogis, I saw a galaxy of stars. Darkness punctuated by brave, brave light. Even in the most overwhelming darkness, billions upon billions of lights shine in the sky, reminding us of our own light here on earth. It is our job to shine through the darkness.

Tonight I am grateful for Yin Yoga, my own light, as well as yours, and meditation. In the New Year, I am determined to become a full-on Yogi. Wish me luck, I’m excited.

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Sunday Song: Pain vs. Discomfort

Today my focus is on the difference between pain and discomfort. In yoga, most instructors will remind you that discomfort is a place to grow, pain is a place to stop. When we experience true pain, our bodies are telling us something needs to change. Discomfort, on the other hand, provides opportunities for us to become stronger as we explore this space. I have probably heard this at least a hundred times, but only this weekend has it started to make sense.

About two months ago I embarked on a journey to heal myself naturally. There is nothing horribly wrong with me, just a “condition” that results in what I have always considered to be reoccurring pain. The only thing doctors could offer me were pain killers, so, as soon as the discomfort began, I would medicate as not to disrupt my normal routines and to save myself from what I considered to be suffering.

What I discovered as I began my natural treatment was that true healing is hard work. I now understand why many people give up on natural remedies as the healing takes weeks, months, maybe even years of consistent effort. In addition to changing my diet, taking various flower essences, and drinking herbal teas, I have had to spend 30+ minutes a day, most days of the week, applying castor oil packs. Setting aside this time has been hard work. It has also been an extreme blessing because it has forced me to slow down my busy evenings.

Fast forward to today. As the familiar discomfort set into my body, I braced myself for pain. Last time, I refused pain killers, intent to fully feel what it was like before doing all the hard work to heal myself. This time, it is already different. I am uncomfortable, yes, but so far I have not experienced any real pain. Even if I soon eat my words, I will feel like I have made progress because I have created a space to grow within the discomfort. I have also come to recognize the difference between discomfort and pain, an amazingly powerful distinction in the mind.

I leave you with a Sunday Song about pain. Maybe not exactly the same kind of pain I wrote about, but a powerful song and a challenge presented by a family member to include in today’s blog entry. Ironically, it rather fits even though I forgot about the challenge until the end of this post. Love it when everything comes together, even imperfectly.

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Yoga Cat & Other Obstacles

Despite my best intentions, life has felt challenging lately. Even home yoga. I would like to introduce you to yoga cat. She is nothing like yoga dog, who stops by, stretches, wags his tail, and then moves on. Yoga cat likes to be in the way, the entire time. Every day since I decided to take my home yoga practice more seriously, she has been on my mat from start to finish. I have done locust poses at odd angles, tree balanced precariously over an outstretched cat, warrior with my hand a dangling invitation for her to take a good swat, and seated meditation with a purring ball of fur pressed against my legs.

Like many obstacles, she is part joyous distraction, part menace.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why not just move her? But, that’s the thing. First, she’s not an easy creature to move. My husband and I joke that she’s half ferrel. She does what she pleases unless you’re willing to risk an altercation. Second, I have tried to view her as an added challenge to clearing my mind and focusing inward. If I work hard enough, I can tune her out, even if every once in awhile I receive an unexpected slap of her paw or have to move some of my poses to the carpet.

Luna is perfectly in the way.

I actually think yoga cat is a good metaphor for life. Anything worth doing is going to have obstacles. You can either put in the work anyway or switch your attention elsewhere. I am pretty sure if I pulled out a different mat she would just follow me to a new location. I have to remind myself this as I push through obstacles in other parts of my life. Even if I switched directions, there would be something else. Thankfully, meditation, yoga, blogging, reading all help. And, doing yoga over a cat might just be part of the fun.

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My New Experiment: Develop a Spiritual Practice

In the past few months, one question has resurfaced again and again. How can I sustain my current responsibilities without burning out? There are moments when I am able to transcend stress and remain amazingly calm. Then, there are other moments, when I cannot help but absorb the energy around me. Those days, I go home searching for peace. The answer I keep receiving, develop a spiritual practice to move into a more consistently balanced space.

Now, I get that the word spiritual can be a big turnoff for many. It is hard to separate the word from religious traditions that may not be our own. But, whether you’re agnostic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or even atheist, creating a spiritual practice can be beneficial and does not have to be about one path to God. Instead, it is about quieting the mind and connecting with what is important. This in itself is not new. I just did not know where to start, until I found two books at my mom’s house this week.

The first, Mindfulness Yoga inspired me to connect my yoga practice with Eastern philosophy and meditation. The second, The Spiritual Activist, focuses on helping activists of all faiths, including teachers, establish spiritual practices to sustain their social work. While Mindfulness Yoga is great for establishing home yoga routines and understanding the philosophical background of meditation, it is dense material. The Spiritual Activist, on the other hand, makes it easy to form a plan of action. Together they make an inspiring duo. Exactly what I was seeking.

My new plan, create a daily spiritual practice that interchanges yoga, meditation, walking, and reading. Even though I already do these things, the goal is to set aside a regular time each day to quiet my mind. At first I considered waking up earlier, but I read it is better not to alter your normal wake/sleep patterns because you are less likely to succeed in establishing new habits when your sleep cycle is changed. So, instead, I plan to begin each evening with silence and spiritual practice when I get home from work.

I know this will be a big experiment, especially since I have never meditated regularly, but I hope to monitor my progress and share whether or not it makes a difference in my stress levels, particularly in the most challenging moments while I teach. I do not expect it to work instant miracles, but I also am hopeful that it will help me access the calm that already exists inside me.

I leave you with one piece of wisdom, known as Bodhichitta. In order to achieve true good for ourselves, we must aim to achieve good for all beings. This is a big part of my calling as a teacher. I teach not only to fulfill myself, but also to make the lives of my students better, which in turn improves our community. So, what I do to make myself a more balanced teacher, I do not just for me, but for my students, and all beings.

If you’re open to sharing, do you have a daily spiritual practice? If so, what does it consist of for you? How has it benefited your life?

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Wanderlust vs. Sleep

It’s my little tradition to wake up early in Hawaii and run on the beach.  Our resort is perched up on a bluff, so I had to get creative.  The people at the front desk warned us not to take the public access trail to the beach at the entrance of our resort.  I figured they just wanted it for themselves, so of course, that is where I had to run.

At 5AM, like clockwork, my eyes opened, not accustomed to the time change.  Fighting the urge to just lie there, I pushed myself out the door, reaching the dirt trail by 6AM.  At first, I was a little nervous, reading all the signs warning me of danger, suddenly alone in a canopy of trees. Determined to keep going, I carefully maneuvered down the steep, muddy slope, and discovered a glorious little beach.

So glorious, in fact, a few smart campers have their tents protected beneath the thick tree branches, waking up to this amazing view.  I startled a bohemian sort of man, meditating alone at the base of the trail, his canoe and tent behind him.  Or, maybe he startled me. Either way, he has the best front yard on earth.

Jogging on the beach, I let a passing rain storm drench me, smiling with my face pointed to the sky.  My wanderlust restored, I reveled in life.  Sleep is tempting, yes, but nothing beats an early morning outing, alone, on the beach.

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