Monthly Must-Haves: Incense and the Basics

must haves meditation yoga lotus heart mindfuness.png

We live in a very wealth-driven society in which things=success.

While that can ultimately become a VERY unhealthy drive, having high quality goods isn’t always a bad thing.

I’m always on the lookout for products that support makers or artists, are eco conscious, or are just really well-made for myself, for my husband… even for the dogs!!

I’ve found so many things in fact that I’ve decided to introduce a new monthly segment of my blogMONTHLY MUST-HAVES!!!

That’s not to say every product in here is something you need to buy in order to practice mindful meditation, yoga, or anything really, but they’ve been particularly helpful for me.

Since this is my first month doing this I’ll start with the basics, with a fun item included, so you can find out what I use for my yoga and meditation essentials.


What’s in my yoga bag?

  • Manduka PRO Yoga Mat

    • Pros

      • I absolutely LOVE my Manduka PRO Yoga Mat, I’ve had it for ten years but you would never know it!

      • It’s durable, it’s easy to clean (you don’t have to soak or scrub it), it comes in a lot of fun colors and patterns, and best of all, it’s got the best cushion and support I’ve ever seen.

      • It provides extra cushion for my knees, without being too squishy (which I find tough for both balance, and my wrists!).

      • Plus, the company supports using sustainable materials, so if you’re worried about your impact on the environment this is the mat for you!

    • Cons

      • It is a little pricey, but you’ll never have to replace the mat. If you’re already well into your yoga practice and don’t have one of these, you’re missing out. If you’re starting your yoga journey and know you’ll stick with it, this would be a great investment!

      • I’ve found the Pro mat is a little bulky, so I don’t travel with mine, but it makes for a luxurious home mat. I look forward to practicing on mine all day!

  • Swell Stainless Steel Water Bottle

    • Pros

      • Things that should be cold stay cold, and things that should be hot stay hot. This was the biggest thing for me!

      • 25 oz is a great size for my more strenuous sessions (and if you’re so inclined, fits a whole bottle of wine wink, wink)!

      • Just like the Munduka Mat, these bottles come in all sorts of colors, you could even get one to match, plus you can reduce the waste of a plastic water bottle.

    • Cons

      • Dropping one of these water bottles has blown out my eardrums more than once. If you’re prone to moments of klutziness save yourself the earache on this one.


!!Current Obsession!!

Incense holders certainly aren’t some you have to have in order to practice yoga or mindful meditation, but I’ve found some scents can really put me into a more peaceful frame of mind.

Putting incense and art together serves both a functional and fun part of me, and when I saw these backflow incense holders I fell in love!

If you don’t know what a backflow incense holder is or how it works, here’s a video!

I found this one on Etsy for $75, but there are plenty of options if you don’t like the style of this one. Just look up backflow incense holders on Google!


If you want to learn about the less material sides of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation check out some of the other services I provide!

From my home studio in Tampa Bay I offer yoga and meditation classes (both personal and corporate), as well as workshops for MBSR.

If you’re not in the Tampa Bay area I have several online classes available through Zoom Meeting.

Be sure to follow me @lotusheartmindfulness on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more mindfulness inspiration!

Mindful Poetry: Florida and Nature

Quote_orange.png

I didn’t think I would… but I love Florida!!!!

The beaches, the people. the businesses, the nature… THE BEACHES!! I think Florida has some of the prettiest natural areas in the U.S., maybe even the world.

That being said, I found some really wonderful poems this week that explore a few poet’s reactions to Florida environments, focusing on what emotions were triggered by the natural landscape.


Sandpiper

The roaring alongside he takes for granted,

and that every so often the world is bound to shake.

He runs, he runs to the south, finical, awkward,

in a state of controlled panic, a student of Blake.

The beach hisses like fat, On his left, a sheet

of interrupting water comes and goes

and glazes over his dark and brittle feet.

He runs, he runs straight through it, watching his toes.

—Watching, rather, the spaces of sand between them,

where (no detail too small) the Atlantic drains

rapidly backwards and downwards. As he runs,

he stares at the dragging grains.

The world is a mist. And then the world is

minute and vast and clear. The tide

is higher or lower. He couldn't tell you which.

His beak is focused; he is preoccupied,

looking for something, something, something.

Poor bird, he is obsessed!

The millions of grains are black, white, tan, and gray,

mixed with quartz grains, rose and amethyst.

-Elizabeth Bishop


Memory of a Porch

Miami, 1942

What I remember

Is how the wind chime

Commenced to stir

As she spoke of her childhood,

As though the simple

Death of a pet cat,

Buried with flowers,

Had brought to the porch

A rumor of storms

Dying out over

Some dark Atlantic.

At least I heard

The thing begin—

A thin, skeletal music—

And in the deep silence

Below all memory

The sighing of ferns

Half asleep in their boxes.

-Donald Justice


Fabliau of Florida

Barque of phosphor

On the palmy beach,

Move outward into heaven,

Into the alabasters

And night blues.

Foam and cloud are one.

Sultry moon-monsters

Are dissolving.

Fill your black hull

With white moonlight.

There will never be an end

To this droning of the surf.

-Wallace Stevens


If you’re interested in learning more about the practice of mindfulness, meditation, or yoga, check out the services I provide!

From my home studio in Tampa Bay I offer yoga and meditation classes (both personal and corporate), as well as workshops for MBSR.

If you’re not in the Tampa Bay area I have several online classes available through Zoom Meeting.

Be sure to follow me @lotusheartmindfulness on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more mindfulness inspiration!

Is a Home Yoga Studio Right for You?

Picture this: You promised you would go to the gym after work, then once you get home, you’re too tired to go.

It takes some serious effort to change, drive to the gym, workout when you’re already tired, and then have to drive back home before you can rest?

If you’re a hardened gym rat, it might come easy to you, the rest of us skip out on that promised workout!

Home yoga classes can combine the comfort of practicing in your own home with the need to remain active and healthy after work.

woman-practicing-yoga-BU5K9RX.jpg
exercising-at-home-8GCMQWK.jpg

In a global survey done by DOYOUYOGA in 2016, they found that 46% of people preferred to practice at home.

Why?

Why not? It’s convenient, you’re in the comfort of your home with no fear of someone judging you, and you’re in control of what you do or don’t do!

Yoga from home is great for people who already have a basis in the practice and know what they are doing, but how do beginners get started at home?

There are plenty of online classes that teach beginner poses, flows, and anything else a quick Google search could pull up. These online classes are great for those who are starting out and who feel awkward with a whole class of people who have been practicing for years.

The problem comes when you consider quality control.

Most studios check the yoga instructor credentials of their teachers, but anyone can upload a video online.

Other issues involved with trying to practice yoga on your own at home are being inconsistent with your practice, not knowing when you’re doing something that could lead to injury, and having too many distractions outside of an environment that is set up for yoga.


There is a sort of happy medium between having to get up and go to a class, versus having the comfort of yoga within your home without the proper assistance.

Have the class come to you!

Find a teacher within your area who travels and would be able to come to your home for a private class, or a small group class with a few of your friends (shameless self promotion…like ME!!). Ask what kind of training they have had, and if they are a registered yoga teacher! You can also ask what style of yoga they teach, and can find someone who has a style that aligns with your needs.

Though it’s not free like YouTube, with a home practice, you’re getting personal attention from someone who can tailor the classes to your needs.

With a small group yoga class, or a private yoga class, the pace and strenuousness of your practice is in your hands, and with the trained eye of someone who knows how to guide you.


lotus heart mindfulness

Stacy DiGregorio Bean Lily Dogs Meditation Teacher.jpg

I offer private, small group, and business yoga classes for those who have a drive to learn yoga, but don’t necessarily want to go to a studio.

From my home studio in Tampa Bay, I offer yoga and meditation classes (both personal and corporate), as well as workshops for MBSR. I’m also happy to travel anywhere within the Tampa Bay Area to bring a yoga class to your home.

If you’re not in the Tampa Bay area I have several online classes available through Zoom Meeting.

Be sure to follow me @lotusheartmindfulness on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more mindfulness inspiration!



What is Trauma-Informed Yoga?

YOGA FOR…?

I can sometimes get annoyed by "Yoga for [insert ailment here]" classes and blogs because essentially trauma yoga is just yoga!

There aren't specific poses for someone going through a divorce or who's child is sick and the same is true of trauma victims.

However, with trauma-informed yoga, what is important is that the survivor feels like they are in charge when they face the traumas of their pasts.

The American Psychology Association defines trauma as, “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea.

giffy trauma lotus heart mindfulness yoga meditaion.gif

TRAUMA CYCLES

In the wild, when an animal undergoes trauma, i.e. when a lioness chases a gazelle, if the animal escapes the predator it will tremble for a while to literally shake off the fear and get out of the fight/flight/freeze response cycle.

As humans with higher brain function, we don’t do this.

We become trapped in our amygdala, the part of the brain that controls the fight/flight/freeze response and relive it over and over.

What is so wonderful about yoga and meditation (especially mindfulness meditation) is that it takes the brain out of that f/f/f response of the past and into the present moment as you focus on your breath and feeling the muscles in your body move.

gift trauma fight or flight lotus heart mindfulness.gif

WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT TRAUMA-INFORMED YOGA?

With trauma-informed yoga, the most important thing to keep in mind, is to do what feels right for YOU in YOUR body.

Teachers who have training in trauma-informed yoga will know that some poses may make survivors of trauma feel more vulnerable, (such as downward dog for those who have been victims of sexual trauma or domestic abuse), or that survivors of trauma may have a harder time focusing on the breath while they are meditating.

With trauma-informed yoga the person doing the yoga is the one in control.

They should feel empowered by the use of their body and the freedom of their choices. Some people need to have an active, strong practice, and some need a mellow, restorative practice.

It’s important for the survivor to know that their needs come first, and whatever they need to do they have the freedom to do in a yoga studio.


Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.
— Fred Rogers

RESOURCES

You never know what someone may or may not be going through just by looking at them.

If you or someone you know Is a survivor of trauma, consider bringing trauma-informed yoga into the management of your emotions.

I offer private yoga and meditation classes for those who need the extra privacy and attention as well as group yoga and meditation classes where I am happy to make sure everyone moves at the pace they need and can manage.

From my home studio in Tampa Bay I offer yoga and meditation classes (both personal and corporate), as well as workshops for MBSR.

If you’re not in the Tampa Bay area I have several online classes available through Zoom Meeting.

Be sure to follow me @lotusheartmindfulness on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more mindfulness inspiration!

Mindful Poetry: "The Names" by Billy Collins

Today’s Mindful Poetry is about one of the most tragic days in American history. It is Billy Collin’s “The Names” based on the events that happened on September 11th, 2001.

Collins was the American Poet Laureate at the time, so he presented his poem to the world on TV a little less than a year following the plane crashes. Here is the link to the reading.

On top of being the Poet Laureate at the time of the fall of the Twin Towers, he was also a New Yorker himself, having been born and raised there.

The poem is filled with haunting images and does not shy away from the grief he felt during the tragedy, so if you are still affected by the events of 9/11 this may not be the poem for you.

Please read at your own discretion.

BILL COLLINS poems lotus heart mindfulness.png

The Names

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.
A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,
And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,
I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,
Then Baxter and Calabro,
Davis and Eberling, names falling into place
As droplets fell through the dark.
Names printed on the ceiling of the night.
Names slipping around a watery bend.
Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.
In the morning, I walked out barefoot
Among thousands of flowers
Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,
And each had a name --
Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal
Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.
Names written in the air
And stitched into the cloth of the day.
A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.
Monogram on a torn shirt,
I see you spelled out on storefront windows
And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.
I say the syllables as I turn a corner --
Kelly and Lee,
Medina, Nardella, and O'Connor.
When I peer into the woods,
I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden
As in a puzzle concocted for children.
Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,
Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,
Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.
Names written in the pale sky.
Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.
Names silent in stone
Or cried out behind a door.
Names blown over the earth and out to sea.
In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.
A boy on a lake lifts his oars.
A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,
And the names are outlined on the rose clouds -
Vanacore and Wallace,
(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)
Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.
Names etched on the head of a pin.
One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled into the skin.
Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,
The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in a green field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.


If you need a little extra help meditating, or aren’t sure where to start, check out some of the services I provide!

From my home studio in Tampa Bay I offer yoga and meditation classes (both personal and corporate), as well as workshops for MBSR.

If you’re not in the Tampa Bay area I have several online classes available through Zoom Meeting.

Be sure to follow me @lotusheartmindfulness on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more mindfulness inspiration!

Mindful Listening and How it Could Save a Life

Suicide is one of those things that we avoid talking about in polite society.

For plenty of reasons: it’s depressing to talk about, it could potentially trigger someone, and if we’re being honest unless you or someone you know has been directly affected by suicide you probably don’t think about it too much.


However, coming up on the 10th (that’s Tuesday!) is World Suicide Prevention Day, i.e. a day where we talk about this problem in an empathetic and sincere way.

Suicide is the 10th most common cause of death in the United States.

On average there are 129 suicides per day.

Every 40 seconds, someone ends their life.

Those statistics ARE sobering, and I’m not here trying to make you sad… I’m here to talk about it. Mental health has far too many stigmas, most related to problems in mental health being invisible unless severe.

Suicide is one of those severe cases.

I can’t tell you what signs to look for because they vary from person to person, but the best thing you can do for the people closest to you, even if you don’t know if they are struggling, is listen. Not just listen where you pay attention to every third sentence and “uh-huh” when they pause for longer than 5 seconds, but really listen, MINDFULLY listen.

You might just save a life.

SO, WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

Mindful listening is taking the tenants of mindfulness in general and applying them to listening.

You bring your sole focus to the person speaking to you, allow what they say to be uninterrupted for as long as they need, and to not make judgements based one what they’ve told you.

After all, it’s not your job to judge what another person has gone through, just to listen when they feel they need to say something.

How to Practice Mindful Listening: HEAR

  1. HALT — Halt whatever you are doing and offer your full attention.

  2. ENJOY — Enjoy a breath as you choose to receive whatever is being communicated to you—wanted or unwanted.

  3. ASK — Ask yourself if you really know what they mean and if you don’t, ask for clarification. Instead of making assumptions, bring openness and curiosity to the interaction. You might be surprised at what you discover.

  4. REFLECT — Reflect back to them what you heard. This tells them that you were really listening.


Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.
— David Augsburger

Mindful listening is a great tool, not just for friends and family, but also within your work space.

Mindful listening deepens your empathy, create better networks, improves your communication when you do talk, as well as many other things.

Mindful listening could help save a life, and on Tuesday the International Association for Suicide Prevention is trying to do more good and to save more lives.

If you are anyone you know is a cyclist or likes to bike they will be holding a #CycleAroundTheGlobe challenge! Essentially, anyone can join and add their miles to the collective tally. Last year the participants cycled a whooping 15.8x around the globe!

You can click here to register for the month-long event, and don’t forget to tag your plans #cyclearoundtheglobe!


If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

If you need a more personal start to your mindfulness journey, check out some of the services I provide!

From my home studio in Tampa Bay I offer yoga and meditation classes (both personal and corporate), as well as workshops for MBSR.

If you’re not in the Tampa Bay area I have several online classes available through Zoom Meeting.

Be sure to follow me @lotusheartmindfulness on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more mindfulness inspiration!

Tomorrow15-ProfileImage.jpg


Mindful Poetry: "Allowables" by Nikki Giovanni

Today’s poem has a basis in empathy, not just for our fellow humans, but for all kinds of life.

Being mindful of every creature’s part of the life cycle is part of our responsibility as a sentient beings.

Next time you pick up the book to smash the spider or moth that has found its way into your home, perhaps remember this poem… and find another way,


lotus heart mindfulness spider frightened poetry quote.png

I killed a spider
Not a murderous brown recluse
Nor even a black widow
And if the truth were told this
Was only a small
Sort of papery spider
Who should have run
When I picked up the book
But she didn’t
And she scared me
And I smashed her

I don’t think
I’m allowed

To kill something

Because I am

Frightened


If you need a little extra help meditating, or aren’t sure where to start, check out some of the services I provide!

From my home studio in Tampa Bay I offer yoga and meditation classes (both personal and corporate), as well as workshops for MBSR.

If you’re not in the Tampa Bay area I have several online classes available through Zoom Meeting.

Be sure to follow me @lotusheartmindfulness on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more mindfulness inspiration!


When you reflect on the poem what emotions does it trigger?

Monthly Music: Yoga Mix

ASK ANY OF MY FRIENDS… THEY’LL TELL YOU I LOVE MUSIC!!

After all, who doesn’t? So I decided I would share with you a monthly playlist that will explore just what I’m listening to!

I DON’T listen to music while I practice meditation, mostly because I’ve found it too distracting, but, I do sometimes like to listen to music while I’m doing yoga.

With that in mind, this month’s music is a playlist for yoga specifically. Most of the tunes are without lyrics (again, distracting) but the steady bass and funky rhythms are sure to help with your breath and get you into the flow!



If you need a little help finding your yoga flow, or aren’t sure where to start, check out some of the services I provide!

From my home studio in Tampa Bay I offer yoga and meditation classes (both personal and corporate), as well as workshops for MBSR.

If you’re not in the Tampa Bay area I have several online classes available through Zoom Meeting.

Be sure to follow me @lotusheartmindfulness on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more mindfulness and yoga inspiration!

Mindfulness Meditation: The Cold, Hard Truth

EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW—

What are the cold, hard truths of mindfulness meditation?

While there are many psychological and physiological benefits to meditation (and I could truly talk about them for hours) the saying is a picture is worth a thousand words.

So rather than tell you, I’ll show you all the good meditation could do.


First, let’s bust a few meditation myths:

  1. You don’t have to practice Buddhism or Hinduism in order to meditate mindfully, anyone can do it! However, the roots of the practice are from those religions, so it’s good to learn about them and expand your knowledge.

  2. You don’t have to sit in lotus position, or chant for hours in order to meditate. In fact, if that’s an uncomfortable position for you it could even be detrimental to your mindfulness.

  3. You don’t have to keep an empty mind. With mindfulness meditation, Instead of pushing thoughts away,, you can simply notice when thoughts arise. Sometimes those thoughts include planning, or remembering, or worrying. Having LOTS of thoughts doesn’t mean you are “bad” at meditating, it’s just what is happening at the moment!


BENEFITS

If we take a look at the physiological and psychological benefits of mindfulness meditation we’ll find they are separated out into a few categories:

  • The Emotions:

    • The amygdala (the part of your brain that processes emotions) calms down.

    • Mindfulness meditation can reduce stress and increase serotonin (which means a better, more stable mood).

  • The Brain:

    • The Reticular formation, Frontal lobe, Thalamus, and Parietal lobe all showed reduced activity (these are the centers that acquire sensory data and decide how to handle it, or how to stress about it.)

  • The Heart:

    • As this article from Harvard Medical says, “what’s good for the mind is what’s good for the heart.”

What about everything else?

Basically, anything that is caused by stress (acne, ulcers, anxiety, depression, muscle pain, joint pain, etc.) can be helped by including mindfulness meditation into your day.


If you need a little extra help meditating, or aren’t sure where to start, check out some of the services I provide! From my home studio in Tampa Bay I offer yoga and meditation classes (both personal and corporate), as well as workshops for MBSR. If you’re not in the Tampa Bay area I have several online classes available through Zoom Meeting.

Be sure to follow me @lotusheartmindfulness on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more mindfulness inspiration!


Mindfulness Meditation Blog Infographic.jpg

How to Improve Posture with Yoga and Meditation

HOW IS YOUR POSTURE RIGHT NOW?


Stacy DiGregorio sitting on a bolster to meditate— Tampa Bay, FL.

People often think that in order to sit and meditate you have TO have a perfect posture and not move a muscle.

Proper posture isn't stiff, and it shouldn't hurt (especially if you have something under your tailbone).

I like to say your posture should be dignified, like when you used to balance books on your head as a kid and pretend to be royalty.

Really, proper posture can be anything.

You don’t have to sit in lotus position to meditate. You can sit in a chair, lay on the floor, lean against a wall and stand… anything as long as you are promoting alertness and focusing on what’s going on within your head, not without.


Stacy DiGregorio engaging her core in chaturanga— Tampa Bay, FL.

WHAT IS THE KEY TO GOOD POSTURE?

One of the most important parts of good posture for meditation, yoga, even just daily life is your abdominals (I mean, there’s a reason they’re called the CORE).

Your abs help control your breathing, elongate your spine, stabilize your hips, and protect your internal organs. They’re a pretty big deal!

If you need help finding your abs, just cough. You should feel a huge slab of muscle under your ribs and above your hips tense. Congrats, you found your abs!

While engaging your core is important for posture, you don’t have to tense it like you’re in chaturanga, simply use your core to take deep, even breaths while meditating.

Engaging your core like this throughout your day (especially if you sit in an office all day) will help remind you to lengthen your spine and can ease some back and hip problems from sitting all day.


This is a great stretch for your lower back… also, isn’t the wood floor in my studio gorgeous?

This is a great stretch for your lower back… also, isn’t the wood floor in my studio gorgeous?

HOW CAN YOGA HELP ME?

One of the most common posture problems in the world today is the “computer hunch,” i.e. the hunch between the shoulder blades caused by typing away at a keyboard all day in a tiny cubicle.

Here’s your daily reminder that if you notice your shoulders starting to hunch, clasp your hands behind your back and allow your chest to open.

The stretch will loosen the muscles of the chest and engage the back in order to correct your posture as well as relieve tension.

Another exercise to work the shoulders and correct “computer hunch” is downward dog, a pose I teach in my yoga classes. I offer one-on-one’s and group sessions, as well as large group classes that are perfect for businesses looking to find a healthy, stress relieving group activity for their employees.


Lotus Heart Mindfulness Meditation Skeleton.png

For meditation, posture is an important part of the process.

When you sit, lay, or stand with proper posture you allow more air into your body, while working groups of muscles you wouldn’t necessarily notice otherwise.

The next time you meditate pay attention to how far back your shoulders are placed and where your breathing is coming from, then use that throughout your day. I guarantee you you’ll notice a difference.

If you need a little extra help meditating, or aren’t sure where to start, check out some of the services I provide! From my home studio in Tampa Bay I offer yoga and meditation classes (both personal and corporate), as well as workshops for MBSR. If you’re not in the Tampa Bay area I have several online classes available through Zoom Meeting.

Be sure to follow me @lotusheartmindfulness on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more mindfulness inspiration!

Best Apps to Promote Mindfulness for iPhone

HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU YOU WISHED FOR A PERSONAL ASSISTANT?


Mindfulness in a modern world can be hard, especially with all the distractions of social media, healthy trends that come and go, and juggling time commitments.

Luckily there are a ton of really awesome apps that (while not centered around mindfulness) can help get you into better, healthier routines, which, in turn, will create a better space to be mindful in.


Sleep Cycle tracks the quality of your sleep and wakes you up when you’re out of a REM cycle.

Sleep Cycle tracks the quality of your sleep and wakes you up when you’re out of a REM cycle.

SLEEP CYCLE

Sleep is one of the most important factors in day-to-day health, but it’s one of the most common problems in adulthood. According to a study done by the CDC in 2016, ONE THIRD of adults don’t get the recommended 7 hours of sleep.

One. Third.

Sleep Cycle is an app designed to help you track your sleeping habits and wake up easier (actually this is my favorite feature of the app).

What’s so cool about it is, instead of a regular alarm clock that wakes you up at an exact time, with Sleep Cycle the process is intuitive. You set it for a range of time (usually 30 mins) and the app tracks when you are sleeping the lightest and wakes you up then. This means you’ll wake up easier and, as an added bonus, you’ll be less groggy.

The premium version comes with all sorts of great extras, like sleep aids and a snore tracker, but if you don’t want to spend $30 a year on it, the free version is still amazing.


Fabulous helps you create and stick to healthy habits!

Fabulous helps you create and stick to healthy habits!

FABULOUS

So, what comes first, a good sleep schedule, or a good morning ritual? In most people’s cases you probably need to work on both. Morning people are a different breed, I swear.

Don’t just get up, be FABULOUS! Joking aside, Fabulous is an app that teaches you how to form good habits for highly effective people. Bad habits are easy to pick up and hard to break, but with this app you’re one step closer to your goals.

I absolutely LOVE it. The “journeys” are full of wonderful tips and tricks towards building better habits, plus the app includes small pep talks scattered throughout to help with motivation.


We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
— Will Durant

I’d spend all blog singing the praises of this app if I could, but I need to leave room for the other ones! Here’s a link to another blog specifically about Fabulous. One more thing, the app includes several meditations you can use, so if you’d like to add a little mindfulness to your routine this makes it just that much easier!


Would you like an hour of your day back? Moments could be the key.

Would you like an hour of your day back? Moments could be the key.

MOMENT

Now that I’ve spent this whole post going on and on about apps, I’d like to bring your attention to something called nomophobia: the fear of being without your phone.

More commonly it is referred to as “smartphone addiction” and it can have long term negative effects on your health, social life, and productivity.

Enter Moment, an app that tracks your phone usage and develops strategies to help reduce that usage.

I’ve found it to be particularly helpful when I need to focus for an extended period of time, plus I’ve noticed a change in my sleeping habits when I avoid using my phone before bed.


Insight Timer for meditation.

Insight Timer for meditation.

MINDFUL iOS

I went over some apps that don’t focus on mindfulness, but if you’re interested…

I LOVE Insight Timer for meditations. It’s fantastic!! And free! The meditations are mood based, so you can always find your perfect flow.

Day One for journaling.

Day One for journaling.

Also, I’ve just started journaling after meditations using Day One.

I write whatever comes out of my brain, without editing it for about 5 minutes. If I can’t think of what to say and still have more time left, I write, “I have no idea what to say...” or something like that, until I do have a thought.

Having a holistic approach to health will help your mindfulness, and your mindfulness will improve your holistic health.


Have you used any of these apps before?

If you have let me know in the comments, if not, leave a comment about which one is the most interesting to you!


If you have a hard time using apps, or need a little more structure in your mindfulness practices, check out some of the services I provide!

From my home studio in Tampa Bay I offer yoga and meditation classes (both personal and corporate), as well as workshops for MBSR. If you’re not in the Tampa Bay area I have several online classes available through Zoom Meeting.

Be sure to follow me @lotusheartmindfulness on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest for more mindfulness inspiration!

50 Quotes for Mindfulness

MINDFULNESS IS HARD… FULL STOP.

I know some days I struggle to remember to breathe, pay attention to my thoughts, and learn from that what I will.

It’s also VERY rewarding.

Being aware that the present is the most important moment and constantly bringing myself back to it has created a better awareness within myself and greater emotional intelligence.

My relationships with others have become more self-aware.


“BUT… HOW DO I START?”

I didn’t get where I am today without a lot of help, guidance, and teaching.

Included in this blog post are 50 wonderful quotes for mindfulness which can guide your journey. Some are from inspirational meditation leaders like John Kabat-Zinn or Thich Nhat Hanh. Some are quotes from famous authors or visionaries from years past.

They all touch upon an aspect of mindfulness or bring focus to the present.


My advice? Go through the list slowly and see what speaks to you.


1. “Mindful and creative, a child who has neither a past, nor examples to follow, nor value judgments, simply lives, speaks and plays in freedom.” «—» Arnaud Desjardins

2. “We have only now, only this single eternal moment opening and unfolding before us, day and night.” «—» Jack Kornfield

3. “Envy and jealousy stem from the fundamental inability to rejoice at someone else’s happiness or success.” «—» Matthieu Ricard

4. “By breaking down our sense of self-importance, all we lose is a parasite that has long infected our minds. What we gain in return is freedom, openness of mind, spontaneity, simplicity, altruism: all qualities inherent in happiness.” «—» Matthieu Ricard

5. “Our lives are lived in intense and anxious struggle, in a swirl of speed and aggression, in competing, grasping, possessing and achieving, forever burdening ourselves with extraneous activities and preoccupations.” «—» Sogyal Rinpoche

Jack Kornfield Quote Mindfulness Meditation.gif

6. “Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” «—» Jack Kornfield

7. “To diminish the suffering of pain, we need to make a crucial distinction between the pain of pain, and the pain we create by our thoughts about the pain. Fear, anger, guilt, loneliness and helplessness are all mental and emotional responses that can intensify pain.” «—» Howard Cutler

8. “Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing.” «—» Pema Chodron

9. “Why, if we are as pragmatic as we claim, don’t we begin to ask ourselves seriously: Where does our real future lie?” «—» Sogyal Rinpoche

10. “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” «—» Dalai Lama

11. “If one were truly aware of the value of human life, to waste it blithely on distractions and the pursuit of vulgar ambitions would be the height of confusion.” «—» Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

12. “Knowledge does not mean mastering a great quantity of different information, but understanding the nature of mind. This knowledge can penetrate each one of our thoughts and illuminate each one of our perceptions.” «—» Matthieu Ricard

13. “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” «—» Thich Nhat Hanh

14. “The basic root of happiness lies in our minds; outer circumstances are nothing more than adverse or favorable.” «—» Matthieu Ricard

15. “The mind in its natural state can be compared to the sky, covered by layers of cloud which hide its true nature.” «—» Kalu Rinpoche

Dalai Lama Quote Mindfulness Kindness.gif

16. “Observe the space between your thoughts, then observe the observer.” «—» Hamilton Boudreaux

17. “The practice of mindfulness begins in the small, remote cave of your unconscious mind and blossoms with the sunlight of your conscious life, reaching far beyond the people and places you can see.” «—» Earon Davis

18. “Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the small uncaring ways.” «—» Stephen Vincent Benet

19. “As long as we have practiced neither concentration nor mindfulness, the ego takes itself for granted and remains its usual normal size, as big as the people around one will allow.” «—» Ayya Khema

20. “Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality.” «—» Pema Chodron

21. “If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” «—» Rabbi Harold Kushner

22. “There’s only one reason why you’re not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it’s because you’re thinking or focusing on what you don’t have…. But, right now you have everything you need to be in bliss.” «—» Anthony de Mello

23. “Our own worst enemy cannot harm us as much as our unwise thoughts. No one can help us as much as our own compassionate thoughts.” «—» Buddha

Lao Tzu Mindfulness Quote Meditation.gif

24. “We are awakened to the profound realization that the true path to liberation is to let go of everything.” «—» Jack Kornfield

25. “I wish that life should not be cheap, but sacred. I wish the days to be as centuries, loaded, fragrant.” «—» Ralph Waldo Emerson

26. “The way to live in the present is to remember that ‘This too shall pass.’ When you experience joy, remembering that ‘This too shall pass’ helps you savor the here and now. When you experience pain and sorrow, remembering that ‘This too shall pass’ reminds you that grief, like joy, is only temporary.” «—» Joey Green

27. “Always hold fast to the present. Every situation, indeed every moment, is of infinite value, for it is the representative of a whole eternity.” «—» Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

28. “Do every act of your life as though it were the last act of your life.” «—» Marcus Aurelius

29. “Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.” «—» Robin S. Sharma

30. “Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts.” «—» Allan Lokos

31. “Respond; don’t react. Listen; don’t talk. Think; don’t assume.” «—» Raji Lukkoor

32. “In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility.” «—» Victoria Moran

33. “Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” «—» James Baraz

34. “Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.” «—» Sharon Salzberg

Pema Chodron Mindfulness Meditation Quote Healing.gif

35. “It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest as if it was the only one we had.” «—» Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

36. “Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.” ~Seneca

37. “Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.” «—» Rumi

38. “If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” «—» Amit Ray

39. “In the end, just three things matter: How well we have lived. How well we have loved. How well we have learned to let go” «—» Jack Kornfield

40. “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” «—» Dalai Lama

41. “Suffering usually relates to wanting things to be different than they are.” «—» Allan Lokos

42. “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” «—» Pema Chodron

43. “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.” «—» William Blake

44. “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” «—» Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh Mindfulness Meditation Quote.gif

45. “Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” «—» Sylvia Boorstein

46. “The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” «—» Jon Kabat-Zinn

47. “In today’s rush, we all think too much — seek too much — want too much — and forget about the joy of just being.” «—» Eckhart Tolle

48. “When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” «—» Lao Tzu

49. “Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” «—» Thich Nhat Hanh”

50. “As soon as we wish to be happier, we are no longer happy.” «—» Walter Landor


HOW CAN I USE THIS?

Now that you’ve read the quotes take a moment to take stock of what stuck with you most.

If you’d like, focus on one quote each day and incorporate it into your work,

OR If you’re one of the people who are stuck worrying about the future or living in the past, focus on the quotes about the present and see what you can learn from them,

OR pick five quotes that speak to you and try to find moments to use them every day.

The opportunities to add a little wisdom to your day are endless.


WANT TO LEARN MORE?

You’ve come to the right place. I offer plenty of classes within the Tampa Bay area for mindfulness, meditation, and yoga (including a FREE class on the first Sunday of the month on St. Pete Beach!!!)

If you’re not in the Tampa Bay area I offer online classes through a video conference application.

Corporate mindfulness meditation has been shown to boost morale in the workplace, as well as generate more creative energy, try it out for your company and see how much it can help!


WHICH WERE YOUR FAVORITE QUOTES? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!

Everything You Need to Know About Mindfulness Meditation

Are you stressed?

Do you often find yourself trapped in your own head, worrying about silly details that end up being meaningless anyway?

Well, a meditation practice that has been around for millennia may be exactly what the doctor ordered.

In fact, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn brought mindfulness meditation into the Western world in the late 1970’s and used it as a treatment for rising stress levels in the work force. His program is called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and has been practiced and scientifically studied ever since.

Jon Kabat Zinn’s work is probably the reason why you have heard the term “mindfulness”! His MBSR program is taught worldwide, and is incredibly helpful for anyone who wants to reduce the amount of stress in their lives.

Lotus Heart Mindfulness Meditation Buddha.png
Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of MBSR.

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of MBSR.


WHERE DOES MEDITATION BEGIN?

Meditation is a practice that’s been around for millennia! The truth is that we don't have an exact date for the beginnings of mindfulness meditation, but we can attribute its start to several different sources:

  • the Bhagavad Gita

    • a portion of the Hindu scripture which discusses yoga practices as well as Vedic meditations and is possibly the oldest source;

  • the Buddhist concept of Sati

    • translated as mindfulness, which is the first step towards enlightenment in the Buddhist philosophy;

  • and Jon Kabat-Zinn

    • a teacher at the University of Massachusetts who is credited with first bringing mindfulness meditation into the US.


What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice of consciously focusing on the present moment rather than your worries over what your kid brought to school for lunch, or what deadlines need to be met at work.

Mindfulness allows you to take inventory of what is causing you stress during your day so you can either flip the mental switch on things that don’t need to be stressed about or know what you need to target and tackle during the rest of your day.

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.
— Jon Kabat-Zinn
Stacy Digregorio Mindfulness Meditation Lotus Heart.PNG

Try it with me right now.

1. Sit somewhere comfortable and quiet either sitting on a chair or on a cushion on the floor.

2. Pay attention to the way your body feels as you sit, getting a sense of gravity pulling you into the support of the chair, or cushion.

3. Bring awareness to your breath, the way it feels as it comes in through your nose and out through your mouth, or in your lungs, or your belly. Nothing to change…simply noticing

4. One of the biggest tenets of mindfulness meditation is to not judge whether a wandering thought is good or bad, but to take note of it and to let it go. Gently, kindly, bring your attention back to your breath.

5. If a thought carries you away… remember not to judge yourself #1 you’re just starting, and #2 it happens, you’re human. Refocus on your breathing.

6. Slowly open your eyes…if they were closed…and go on with your day!


LET’S KEEP THE CALM GOING!

Lotus Heart Mindfulness home studio in Tampa, FL.

Lotus Heart Mindfulness home studio in Tampa, FL.

At Lotus Heart Mindfulness I believe that mindfulness meditation should be a central practice to the workday, or any day.

If you are looking for a meditation class in Tampa, there’s no place better to start than with my mindfulness workshop for stress reduction.

If you aren’t in the Tampa Bay area I offer plenty of online meditation classes, as well as mindfulness meditation online classes for 30 or 60 minutes.

I offer corporate meditation classes for those struggling to reduce stress in the workplace, as well as promote company morale.

If you aren’t already sold have a look at a few scientific studies that have shown positive links between mental health, stress reduction, increased focus, and mindfulness meditation here:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeenacho/2016/07/14/10-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-mindfulness-and-meditation/#7e34c26763ce

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679190/

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/

Crazy hair, don’t care! - Stacy DiGregorio, Tampa, FL

Crazy hair, don’t care! - Stacy DiGregorio, Tampa, FL

3 Tips on Dealing with “Life” Block

3 Tips on Dealing with “Life” Block

First, recognize that feeling stagnant or unable to create is a totally normal human process, getting frustrated with yourself for feeling uninspired or being unable to get work done is just going to make it worse. So, with that in mind, take time to focus on your breathing and let thoughts enter your conscience however they may.

Mindful Poetry: "Walk, Don't Run" by  Rob Bell

Quote_purple.png

WALK DON’T RUN

Walk, don’t run.
That’s it.
Walk, don’t run.

Slow down, breathe deeply,
and open your eyes because there’s
a whole world right here within this one. The bush doesn’t suddenly catch on fire, it’s been burning the whole time.

Moses is simply moving
slowly enough to see it. And when he does,
he takes off his sandals.

Not because
the ground has suddenly become holy,
but because he’s just now becoming aware that
the ground has been holy the whole time.

Efficiency is not God’s highest goal for your life,
neither is busyness,
or how many things you can get done in one day,
or speed, or even success.

But walking,
which leads to seeing,
now that’s something.
That’s the invitation for every one of us today,
and everyday, in every conversation, interaction,
event, and moment: to walk, not run. And in doing so,
to see a whole world right here within this one.

By Rob Bell

Mindful Poetry: "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye

before you know what kindness really is, you must lose things

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

– Naomi Shihab Nye 
*Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (A Far Corner Book) Paperback – October 1, 1994

*affiliate link

5 Ways to Cope with Change

Here’s the one thing I know for sure: Things are constantly changing.

Constantly. Changing.

I have had some very VERY challenging moments of change in the last 6 months.

Let me just first say that this isn’t a plea-for-sympathy blog post.

Ok, now that I’ve made that clear, here’s what’s been going on: My brother and I (along with our families) have had to face my 87 year old dad breaking both of his hips…6 weeks apart. In between those breaks, he was hospitalized with bleeding ulcers, very close to death, AND, he has been diagnosed with Alzheimers. We moved him out of his beloved home in Oregon to an assisted living facility and put his home up for rent. Oh, and there’s more…but I’ll just leave it at that. So. LOTS of change….for my dad, and everyone close to him. oof.

Now. Here’s the deal. Change can be super challenging sometimes. (see my example above). But I know I don’t have to tell you that.

What can you do to cope?

Here are some things that have help me:

  1. First, read this:

    “Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. When there's a big disappointment, we don't know if that's the end of the story. It may just be the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We don't know anything. We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don't know.” 
    ― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

    I adore this book by Pema Chödrön. I’ve read it multiple times…and use a different colored highlighter each time I read it…and now almost the entire thing is a rainbow of different highlights! Open yourself up to the possibilities that life has to offer… EVEN in times of challenge and change.

  2. Acknowledge your feelings. What is there for you to know about the way you are feeling? Anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness, despair? Can you name it? If not, that’s ok too.

  3. Talk to someone. Someone who can truly listen to you. This can be a loved one, a friend, or a therapist. Talking about how you are feeling can help you get a clear view of what is going on.

  4. Take care of yourself. Start with self compassion. Change can be difficult…give yourself a little hug, and maybe even a “I know this is really difficult for you, and I’m sorry you are going through this.” (I DO realize that this might totally sound kooky as hell…but it can REALLY be helpful!). After a little self-compassion…take care of your health…getting some exercise, eat healthy foods, ease up on any alcohol or weed consumption.

  5. Practice acceptance. This goes back to the thing I know for sure: everything changes. Accept the things that are out of your control. There are things that are simply out of your hands. Focus on what you can control…like, self-care.

    *BONUS* Start a meditation practice. I know a person who can help you get started, if you need it…ahem…cough cough…

How do you cope with change and challenge in your life? I’d love to hear any tips you may have!

Mindful Poetry: "Forget About Enlightenment" by John Welwood

john welwood

Forget About Enlightenment

Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins. 
Feel the love, the longing, the fear in your bones. 
Open your heart to who you are, right now, 
Not who you would like to be, 
Not the saint you are striving to become, 
But the being right here before you, inside you, around you. 
All of you is holy. 
You are already more and less 
Than whatever you can know. 
Breathe out, 
Touch in, 
Let go.

By: John Welwood

The Solution to Ending Bad Habits

kicking the soda habit

I kicked my Diet Coke habit years ago. I decided that I didn’t want to drink all of the artificial ingredients any more. So, instead of soda…these days I usually have iced tea!

In honor of National Iced Tea Day, I thought I’d talk a little about habits. {How’s that for a segue?!}

We all have things we do on autopilot. {Like, grabbing a soda out of the fridge instead of a glass of water}. What are your habits? Have any that you’d like to quit? Maybe hitting the snooze button every morning or grabbing a sugary snack instead of a healthy one…

Judson Brewer is one of the leaders in studying habits and mindfulness and explained that the part of our brain that is used to make decisions goes “offline” when we get stressed.


And, if one of our habits is triggered by a stressful emotional response…it’s no WONDER that habits are hard to break…even though you know cognitively that they aren’t great for you.

Here is a *link to Judson Brewer’s book, The Craving Mind on breaking habits. I HIGHLY recommend it!

So, mindfulness can play a great role in helping us changing our habits. We have the ability to actually become curious about what is going on within our bodies and minds when we are triggered to step into a habitual response to something!

What are your experiences with habits and trying to break them? Have you tried a little mindfulness? What was that like for you?

*an affiliate link…I get a tiny cut when you buy the book via my link!

Mindful Poetry: "Admit Something" by Hafiz

Quote_orange.png

Admit Something

Everyone you see, you say to them,
Love me.
Of course you do not do this out loud;
Otherwise,
Someone would call the cops.
Still though, think about this,
This great pull in us
To connect.
Why not become the one
Who lives with a full moon in each eye
That is always saying,
With that sweet moon language,
What every other eye in this world
Is dying to Hear.

– Hafiz