Thursday, 29 January 2015

Let's get real here.....

I'm someone who tends to sweat the small things. You know, get cranky when there's a pile of dirty dishes in the sink or endless loads of laundry needing to get done. What about the never ending "to do lists" or constant backup of emails in your inbox. Sigh! I can feel my blood pressure rising even as I type it.

This is one of the reasons why I'm so grateful for my yoga practice. It allows me to step away from the small but frustrating aspects of my householder life and offers up some perspective. Reminds me to be skillful where I place my attention and remember the path I've chosen.

Well this week, I've had an added slap in the face of perspective. My 8 week old nephew had heart surgery on Monday. Yes, you heard me right, heart surgery. I couldn't stop thinking about my sister and her husband. About sweet little Roscoe and all the emotions they were feeling. I stared at my daughter and my stomach sank with the idea of her going through something like that. I can't even imagine, or let myself linger too long in that place. All I knew this week is that getting upset over laundry and dishes seemed unnecessary and completely out of alignment with the true essence of my life.

In other words I remembered what really mattered, my relationships. My relationship with my family, community, with my friends and students and of course with myself. The most precious and most valuable aspects of my life live within those connections and sweating over the small stuff takes me away from remembering that.

May you take time to look into your loved ones eyes and tell them how much they mean to you. Call someone you haven't talked to in a long time but think of often. Forgive that person that hurt you. Spend an hour to your self, walking, practicing yoga, or simply sitting in silence, swelling with gratitude. Write in a gratitude journal and remember what really matters.

With you on this path,

P.S. Little Roscoe is doing amazing and was discharged home on Thursday night to be with his mom Caroline, Dad Stuart and big brother Baker. YEAH!!!!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

More on Nothing

The art of doing nothing can seem overwhelming and may bring more stress than relieve stress due to the constant chatter in our heads as we fight to do "nothing".

I find if I let go of the ideal meditation or how I perceive the ideal meditation to be, then it is easier to accept what comes up when I sit. I also find that sometimes a guided mediation is what I need. Here is a video from Kristen Stuart on meditation for centering that I thought you might enjoy on this third week of practicing mindful breathing and sitting.

Click here for video.


Thursday, 15 January 2015

Stop what you're doing.......

Stop what you're doing.

Take a comfortable seat. This could mean re-organizing the seat you're already in by shifting your hips to the back of your chair and lengthening your spine till your lower back draws in and your chest lifts up. Another option is to get off your chair and sit on the floor either cross legged with your hips higher than your knees (may mean you sit on something like a couch cushion or foam block) or you can sit back on your heels as well. Either way get comfortable and lengthen your spine by lifting up from your tailbone to the top of your head.

Find a soft spot to gaze at in front of you. Take 3 deep breathes, by breathing in through your nose to the count of 6......1...2...3...4...5...6 and now exhale slowly through your nose to the same count of 6.......1...2...3...4...5...6. Repeat this 2 more times.

Now slowly close your eyes. Stop influencing your breath (so no need to count at this time) and simply open yourself to the moment. Everything about the moment. What do you hear? Cars passing by outside, maybe people talking in another room, soft music if that's playing in the background.  How does your body feel? Don't judge or criticize what you notice, just simply notice what is, like a curious child seeing the newness in that experience.
        "My right hip feels heavier than my life, how interesting is that!".
What about your environment, is it warm in the room you're in? Do you smell anything, specific? Maybe you're noticing a soft light behind your closed eyes. Notice this all right now.

Then come back to noticing the natural pattern of your breath. So don't change it or influence it, just notice it. Say as you inhale "this is my in breath", notice the natural pause at the top of that inhale and then say as you exhale "this is my out breath", and notice the natural pause at the bottom of that exhale. Spend a few moments recognizing your breath patterns, again without judgement or too much of an inner conversation about what you're noticing.

Do this practice for as long as you like, without any expectations or pressure to sit for a certain length of time. When you feel done, you're done. At the time of "doneness", lay on your back for 5 breathes, breathing the same way you did in the beginning. Inhale to the count of 6, exhale to the count of 6. Then roll to your right side, slowly get up and move on with your day.

Come back to this practice often.

"Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life." -Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now:A guide to spiritual Enlightenment

With you on this path,

Thursday, 8 January 2015


It’s a New Year and like most years I have some resolutions. This year I am resolving to sit in silence more often, for longer periods of time and engage in more mindful breathing. Whew, easy right? I resolve to sit and breath.

There are many studies and articles written about the countless benefits to mediation and mindful breathing. Some include helping with anxiety, heart disease, insomnia, while increasing immune function and memory. For me, I always feel more positive and am able to manage stress better. I can gain new ways of seeing things.

If you are new to this practice it can seem really challenging. We are leading busy lives and taking time away from the to-do list to sit may be the biggest challenge you will face. Start small. Five minutes. Once you have set aside the time, the next step is to find a comfortable seat. This may look very different from your mediation book sitting on your coffee table. I like to sit cross-legged on a block or blanket, knees resting on the ground. You may feel great here but if not find a seat that gives you room to breath and you can sustain for 5 minutes without wanting to scream. Use a chair if you need. 

Close your eyes and bring awareness to your breath. Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale. Fill your body with your breath and just notice how it feels. If things come up for you, what to make for dinner, did you feed the cat etc… Just let them pass through. They will be there when you are done and in five minutes nothing will change so just let the thoughts come and then let them go as easily.

If closing your eyes is a challenge try focusing your attention on one thing.  Last summer I used a flower off our back patio for my practice quite a bit and it gave me a different way to practice. Just focus on the one thing. Some days my practice was 5 minutes of me just saying I will not look away for 5 minutes… I will not look away….. but usually it just felt right and restful to stare at the flower.

Another alternative is to take a mindful walk by your self. No cell phone or IPod or even pet. Just you, the fresh air and your breath.

I hope this helps you get started on the path of taking some time in your day to experience quiet and the beauty of your breath, inspires you to pick up a practice you have left or finds you continuing on.

We will add on to this practice in the following weeks with some tips from Lauren on our next post.