Meditation Day 10: Attention to Breath

How is your meditation practice going?  Of the past 10 days, I think I have meditated six times.  So, not each day, but significantly more than I have in the past.  I’ve noticed that I’ve started to crave it.

I want to remind you to think about your breath.  It is one of the easiest things to “think” of while you are meditating.  It is something that happens without any sort of effort from you, and you can close your eyes and focus on the rise and fall, inhale and exhale, and notice how everything else melts away.

This is something you can practice throughout the day as well, even when you are not meditating.  Bring your awareness into your body the next time you are driving, or in a stressful meeting.  Can you notice when your body has become tense and your breath has become shorter?  See if you can gently remind yourself to receive a fuller breath, relax your shoulders down, soften your face, maybe even wiggle your toes.

In my six out of ten times meditating this month, I have noticed that I have become much calmer.  That is not to say that I have not been frequently agitated; but I do notice it and shake it off more quickly.  What are you noticing?


Meditation Day 1: Apply A** to Chair

The first professor I ever had in law school told us that to be successful, we had to remember four words: “Apply A** to Chair.”  (I’ll give you a hint and tell you that the 2nd word is not “art.”)  What he meant was that you can’t accomplish anything until you sit down and put your mind to it.

So that’s our first step: sit!  There is such thing as a walking meditation, but the practice that we’ll be exploring over the next month is going to be a sitting meditation.  You can sit just about anywhere that gives you some time alone to quiet yourself.  But I don’t recommend reclining because you might fall asleep!

Let’s make this our first assignment.  Scour your home and locate a quiet corner that you can make your own.  Maybe you decide to shut your bedroom door and sit on a pillow in front of a candle.  Maybe everyone has left for the day and you decide to sit quietly at your dinner table.  Wherever the space is, make it somewhere that you will not be interrupted for five minutes.  (That means leave the television off!) Take a comfortable seat and set a timer for five minutes.  And just sit.  Close your eyes, lengthen your spine, let your breath enter and exit your body, and focus on that.  

During our time together, keep a journal with you and after your five minutes write down anything that comes up for you.  How does your body feel?  Do you want to sit somewhere different next time?  What time of day is it?  Maybe you want to try this at a different time of day to see if that feels any different to you.  How do you feel?  Calm, agitated, energized?  I hope you’ll begin to look forward to these five minutes as much as I do.  


Friends, it is time for us to build a meditation practice.

I’m sorry, I know that was abrupt.  Just go with me here for a second.

Today I woke up at 6 a.m., which means that I overslept by an hour.  I went to the gym, ran a few morning errands, and got to work by 9 a.m.  I was there all day and then had yoga teacher training from 7 to almost 10 p.m.  And now I’m home.  And I’m completely wiped out.  And it is only Wednesday.  (Is this sounding familiar to anyone?  I thought so.)

But here’s the thing–as much as I don’t want to have another day like this tomorrow, my mind is taking me through all of the things I’ll have to do, how many billable hours that includes, that it really is going to be that stressful, and that you might as well brace yourself now because it’s all going to come raining down on you in the morning.  Like, really, Mind?  I need you to hush so I can enjoy the peace and quiet that I have left this evening!

And that, my dears, is what brings me to meditation.  (I hear you over there–yes, I will also try to get more sleep and wake up at a reasonable hour.  But we are still meditating, people.)  Over the next 31 days, I invite you to learn with me about how to calm our minds.  I’m not an expert on this, so don’t expect a tutorial.  (But if you want an expert, as we go through this journey I will be reading Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation by Joseph Goldstein & Jack Kornfield, and invite you to read along with me.)  Just come with me on this journey, just for a month, and see what you see.  You’ll like it, I promise.

Shampoo bottles and other [un]necessaries

“Scared is what happens when the sacred gets scrambled.” – Anodea Judith

Have you ever seen that show, Hoarders?  I’ve only seen the commercials, but every time I see it, I cringe. Until…I catch a glimpse of the 3 half-empty lotion bottles on my bathroom sink, or the 4 bottles of hand soap I keep in my linen closet (just incase I run out, of course), or the clothes that are a size too big that I keep in the top of my closet (just incase I gain weight again).  I hoard! *gasp*

Well, that’s just the tip of the root chakra iceberg.  As I understand it, chakras are wheels of energy inside of us.  Most of us only hear of the seven main chakras, but there are others as well.  I don’t profess to be an expert about this, but I can recommend to you a wonderful book by Anodea Judith called Eastern Body, Western Mind.  This is just one of her brilliant books detailing the chakras, their imbalances, ways to balance them, and the implications of both.

As I understand the root chakra in particular, its imbalance demonstrates a lack of belonging, feelings of fear, dependence, abandonment, neglect, anxiety, insecurity, hoarding…..*gasp* Dang, there it is again!! 

I have to admit, I do have to take some time to balance myself from time to time (read: every morning).  As far as my root chakra meditation is concerned, I do the same thing every morning.  Close your eyes [after you read this!!] and go with me:  Sitting on my pillow with my legs folded, I imagine that my pelvis is a bowl filled with soil and I drop a red seed into the soil and smooth it over.  Then I open up a window sort-of hole in my chest so my heart is exposed, and picture a soft light shining out of it.  Then I do the same on the top of my head, and picture a soft light from above shining in and through my body, down to the soil.  Then I drop everything I need into the soil: love, patience, money, healthy and nourishing food, water, peace…it varies, but whatever I feel like I need that day, it’s all within me.  Then I start to picture the seed growing, with the roots coming out of me and sinking into the floor.  As I picture this I can feel my body start to straighten up and really feel rooted into the ground.  

I invite you to try some sort of grounding practice today.  If you practice yoga already, then you’ve heard your yoga teacher talk to you about this when you’re standing in tadasana.  You don’t need to be doing your yoga or meditation practice to ground yourself.  Take a few minutes at your desk at work to center yourself.  (Unless you have one of those heavenly, stress-free jobs where you walk in feeling balanced and carry the peace with you all day.)  Feel your feet planted into the floor (take your shoes off if you need to), feel your seat planted into your chair, and breathe.  You’re here, you deserve to be here, you are supported, and grounded, and stable.  Just breathe.  

at the beginning…

…there was a blank blog page, and a million thoughts swimming around my head!  And that’s why I started this blog!

Anyone who knows me knows that I love four things: God, Jeff, cheeseburgers, and YOGA!  Maybe in that order 🙂  I’m sure all of those will come up in this blog, but its main focus is yoga.  

I’ve been practicing yoga since December 2008, but over the past few months I’ve become more committed to my goal of soon becoming a yoga instructor.  There is so much information out there, so much to read, so much to absorb!  I’m so excited to share my journey with you; I hope that we can learn together.