Adventures in Meditation – “Life Just Isn’t That Obvious”

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‘Live just isn’t that obvious.’

 

This text came from my friend Kathleen. When you’re friends with poets they drop one line bombs with a quickness and on the reg. She’s more subtle than me.

I would have to follow up the text with:

drops mic

 

 

Fortunately, subtlety isn’t lost on this bull in a china shop. You may think astrology is hooey, but I’m a Taurus through and freaking through.

Anyway…subtle…point…

 

She sent this in response my waxing philosophical about my love life.

I’m the worst when it comes to dating.

The. Worst. Say it with me, the worst.

Work life seemed easier. Get ‘er done. Even when the terrain is difficult like say, navigating a whole new career I can manage to strategize, plan and execute. But a date? Relationship? Smooth.

 

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I made bad decisions and compounded those stupid decisions withworse ones. Antics ensued. It was easier to make work my relationship rather working on my relationships. Yeah, I knew what I was doing. I just didn’t fix it.

Until meditation.

Being still allows for thoughts to come and go. Something happens when we look inward. The sense of vastness at times overwhelms me. On some days it’s all I can do not to run away from the infinite potential discoveries. The is so much inside. On others, I find the answers without knowing it. In the abyss is a whisper of hope or encouragement disguised as an inhale or exhale. The is powerhttp://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/yogaxl.jpg in my mantra as I sit- I realize more and more that I know so little.

It allows me to be present even when I’m not meditating. This is great. And shitty. No more pushing things down and not dealing with them.

Recently, I had a great date with someone who didn’t fit what I’d imagined. I began my usual routine of trying to blow them off and a strange thing occurred.

I made a different choice. In fact, I made a choice wrapped in honesty despite my fear.

I called ___ and said, “I owe you an apology. I was being an idiot. I like you and instead of saying that I’m a little concerned that we’re different but I’d like to see I was just trying to push you away. If it’s not too late, I’d really like to start again and have you see that I’m not totally crazy, though clearly I have some issues.”

I was expecting rejection. Second chances are a gift.

And you know what? I got one.

While it did turn out that our lives were in different places- if I hadn’t been paying attention in the moment, I wouldn’t have decided to take a leap.

This is what meditation has done for me. I’m more awake than I’ve ever been. Like I said earlier, this is both fantastic and crappy. But, it is life.

Playing sliding doors for a moment…If I had played out old stories nothing would have changed.

Things don’t have to work out the way you want, but if you are brave enough to be here, now- it seems that things work out the way they should.

And embracing that is what yoga is all about.

It’s a good day.

Namaste y’all.

 

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National Stress Awareness Day – Life Yoga (5 Tips to Reduce Your Stress)

nsad_logo2010     Today is National Stress Awareness Day. For real though, we don’t need a day to remind us that we have stress. It’s everywhere. On some days it seems that the stress starts from the second we wake up and doesn’t stop even when our heads hit the pillow at night. Stress dreams can plague sleep leaving you to wake even more tired than when the night began. That’s life though. Right? It’s how we live. No big deal. Everyone is stressed. But listen carefully, if you aren’t careful stress will kill you. When stressed, we kick off the flight or flight response in our bodies. It protects us from mortal danger. Here’s the rub, when our brains tell us to fight or flee our organs respond by creating adrenaline and dialing up the engines of our organs. In today’s society many of us function like this even though our bodies aren’t in mortal danger. This isn’t healthy. In fact it’s dangerous. Sure, it’s not like stepping on the third rail dangerous but it is like playing 10,000 games of Russian Roulette and never getting the bullet. The odds keep increasing that one day…bang.

  Here are some facts from the Global Organization for Stress

  • The Stress in America survey results show that adults continue to report high levels of stress and many report that their stress has increased over the past year – American Psychological Association.
  • 75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year – American Psychological Association.
  • Approximately 1 out of 75 people may experience panic disorder – National Institutes of Mental Health.
  • Stress is a top health concern for U.S. teens between 9th and 12th grade, psychologists say that if they don’t learn healthy ways to manage that stress now, it could have serious long-term health implications – American Psychological Association.
  • 80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress.  And 42% say their co-workers need such help – American Institute of Stress.
  • Stress levels in the workplace are rising with 6  in 10 workers in major global economies experiencing increased workplace stress.  With China (86%) having the highest rise in workplace stress – The Regus Group
  • Alarmingly 91% of adult Australians feel stress in at least one important area of their lives.  Almost 50% feel very stressed about one part of their life – Lifeline Australia.
  • Australian employees are absent for an average of 3.2 working days each year through stress.  This workplace stress costs the Australian economy approximately $14.2 billion – Medibank
  • An estimated 442,000 individuals in Britain, who worked in 2007/08 believed that they were experiencing work-related stress at a level that was making them ill – Labour Force Survey.
  • Approximately 13.7 million working days are lost each year in the UK as a result of work-related illness at a cost of £28.3 billion per year – National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
  • Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide – World Health Organization
  • Fewer than 25% of those with depression world-wide have access to effective treatments – World Health Organization.

– See more at: http://www.gostress.com/stress-facts/#sthash.DCEnJa4d.dpuf

 

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Just as easy as it is to live a life under stress we can take small steps to reduce it.   Here are some tips that you can take to slow it down and live longer:

  1. Breathe. Take a deep breath in for a count of four and an exhale for a count of four.
  2. Yoga. Any physical activity for 30 minutes a day will help reduce stress. I’m of supporter of yoga for stress reduction because yoga itself is the idea of yoking our body, mind and breathing. In yoga we talk about moving through the asana practice with steadiness and ease. By controlling how we breathe as we increase intensity we are training our bodies how to deal with stress off of our mats.
  3. Laugh. Check out the benefits courtesy of the Mayo Clinic: A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:
    • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
    • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
    • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.
  4. Eat well. When we fuel our bodies with good food we are better equipped to thrive. I love what Michael Pollan says about a healthy diet, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Keep it simple.
  5. Sleep. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Keep your electronic devices out of bed. Keep the TV off (ideally- don’t use one). Keep the bedroom a sanctuary of peace.

Today take a minute, take a second and remember that it’s okay even when it’s not. But by managing the stress we can make better decisions and live a better life.

 

Namaste y’all.

Adventures in Meditation- Mindful Walking

 

 

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An alley

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” 
― Thích Nhất HạnhPeace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

 

These days meditation is at the forefront of my life. Being still has brought a sense of peace and helped ‘unstick’ some stuck places.

While I’m a lot more comfortable with the idea of quieting the mind stuff, I couldn’t help but wonder how to find ways to still my mind as I’m living life. The benefits of mediation of yoga are amazing. How could I be more mindful while doing day-to-day activities?

For example I can’t tell you how many times I commutes home from work careening down the NJ Turnpike at 80 mph only to arrive at the parking garage with no recollection of any of it. Yikes.

Even now, I walk from point A to point B without remembering the journey.

Why?

I’m distracted by an outside force like a phone or by an inside distraction like my wandering mind. Lately though, I’ve embraced the idea of meditating while while in transit. Some call it mindful walking. Buddhism says that by being mindful we create a foundation of well-being and happiness.

Yesterday afternoon, I grabbed Dakota and headed out into my neighborhood. I didn’t have a destination, just a desire to stay in the moment.

Five things that helped me during my mindful walk:

  1. Posture.  Standing tall I closed my eyes and mentally scanned my body to see if I was holding onto tightly in certain areas and made a conscious effort to let go.
  2. Breathing. Before I started walking in took deep inhales and exhales. As I began my walk I tried to pay attention to how I was breathing.
  3. Intention. Setting an intention was helpful. It allowed me to create a shape to the practice without feeling like a test.
  4. Attention. Before walking I noticed the ground under my feet. As I moved I directed my thoughts to how my heel connected with the sidewalk. It felt like cat/cow, I observed my foot touching the ground and felt the moment just when it lifted off the ground.
  5. Acceptance. Once I was moving I noticed the breeze on my face and the hang of my jacket on my shoulders. I acknowledged smells, sounds and sights.

 

Are there ways that you meditate while in motion? Mindful cycling in next on my list.

 

Namaste y’all.

 

Below are pics of a few discoveries.

 

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A window pops out- unexpected

 

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Kasa Buddha a local business

 

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I never knew that part of the East Coast Greenway was a block away

 

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Dakota looks down an alley