meditation

The stories we tell ourselves...

sweet soul tampa

This picture of me was taken of me in front of a great little restaurant near my house. The perfect place for an insta pic, right?! Well it got me thinking…and I have a question…

My question to you is: What are the stories you tell yourself?

I’m talking about the inner dialogue. Have you ever paid attention to it?

So, for example, the “I’m not good/smart/thin/rich/whatever enough” stories…or the “I should have done ” stories…or the “If this didn’t happen to me then I could be/do __” stories. I could go on and on…

Our minds need to make sense of the world around us. We have memories, plans for the future, or even try to make sense of tragedies. This storytelling is part of our makeup…

These stories can shape who we are. We make decisions, very often, based on the stories we have about things…whatever they are. Following our stories goes back to our ancient ancestors…needing to make decisions about survival based on, say, the last time they were chased by a tiger.

Here’s the deal, though. Our inner narrative doesn’t always serve us well. AND, it keeps us from experiencing THIS MOMENT as it is actually happening. It’s easy to go back to the stories instead of opening up to the possibility of NOW. I do realize that this sounds like motivational-speaker type speak…but…I mean it in a very matter of fact kind of way…all we actually have is right now.

Here’s a practice to try: Sit for a bit, and let thoughts and emotions be the focal point for your meditation. Without judgement, and with a gentle curiosity, notice what types of thoughts you are having…are they planning thoughts, shoulda-coulda-woulda thoughts, hurtful thoughts, pompous thoughts. Whatever they are, simply notice. From here, and with practice, you might be able to notice when our stories are entering their way into our daily lives. You might get a moment of clarity…a time to see that you could open up to now…to what life has to offer you in this moment.

Finding peace within yourself

how to find peace

Many people tell me that they think they should meditate because they want to be more calm…to become more peaceful.

I think peacefulness is a great thing to aspire to…it really is! I believe that world peace begins with the individual…it starts with you + me.

But that STRIVING tho….

What kind of toll does it take on yourself to be constantly striving to be something else? The constant WANTING for things to be different than they are? I think it can take quite a toll. You aren’t broken. This stress, and lack of inner peace that you might be experiencing is simply something to be noticed.

So, how to become more peaceful…

Start with mindful meditation, of course.

While meditating, try bringing awareness to your body. Sometimes stress or anxiety can manifest as different bodily sensations…tight shoulders, tightness in the chest or abdomen. By paying attention to the different sensations, you can observe how they can change over time. it’s possible to become intimately aware of the way body sensations can fluctuate. Bring a kind, non-judgmental awareness to whatever is present for you during your meditation, and pay attention to what happens.

By observing your body as it is in the present moment, you aren’t “inhaling the good shit and exhaling the bullshit”…you are sitting with the bullshit for a little while…just watching it do it’s thing…without judging it, or wanting it to change…but watching how it impacts your body.

This, I believe is the beginning to becoming more peaceful. Being ok with what is there in your body/mind can bring a sense of peace without even trying.

What does peace mean to you?

How to be honest with yourself.

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It’s National Honesty Day. I love how the month of April starts out with FOOLS, and ends with getting real!!

So, how do you become more honest with YOURSELF?!

With mindfulness. And meditation.

Of course I’d say that, right?!

But HOW does this work?!

When you sit in mindfulness mediation, you are paying attention to the present moment, non-judgmentally. You are simply noticing what is going on right NOW….with a willingness to be with what is.

Here’s the thing: Sitting with a willingness to be with what is, isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes you have to sit right down in the muddy water of life and feel it…just BE with it for a while…watching how it unfolds. And, that’s ok! Mindfulness meditation practice gives us the chance to do this.

With a seated meditation practice, you might sit with some unpleasant feelings or thoughts. You have the opportunity to notice how those feelings & thoughts come and go. Gradually, you can learn to become more accepting of things as they are (remember that non-judgmental thing that I mentioned earlier?!).

The stories we tell ourselves: Very often, we have habitual ways of thinking of things…we have stories that we tell ourselves. These stories aren’t necessarily based on truth. Especially the negative self-talk or reasons why things are a certain way. With a regular mindfulness meditation practice, it’s easier to see these stories as they are happening. You can pay attention to whatever happens to arise in each particular moment.

Having a sense of humor helps sometimes too…believe me.

Seeing your TRUE self is possible when the stories are seen as just that: stories. We can be in the present moment with what ACTUALLY is…and have the opportunity to see things as they are when we practice mindfulness meditation.

So, happy honesty day, everyone! Have a little sit, and let’s get real.

Meditation with crazy dogs

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Here’s what my meditation practice often looks like with my 2 crazy dogs:

  1. I sit on my meditation mat, on the floor.

  2. Dogs realize that I’m sitting on their level, which, to them means playtime. WOOHOO!

  3. Dogs run over to me to play as I close my eyes, and attempt to settle in.

  4. I fold my hands, and place them in my lap.

  5. Weenie , my dachshund, nudges my hand for me to pet him. (yes, that’s a link to HIS Instagram…you should follow him…he’s adorable!)

  6. I keep my hands still.

  7. Weenie nudges me again….and again…and again…

  8. Frustrated, Weenie goes to find a toy in his toy box which is near my seat.

  9. Weenie shakes his toy violently…not across the room, but RIGHT next to me.

  10. Weenie removes stuffing from toy.

  11. Weenie gets tired, and when he gets tired, he licks his paw.

  12. Weenie continues to lick his paw for at least 20 minutes.

  13. Meanwhile, Lilly, my terrier, tries to curl up in my lap.

  14. Lilly makes circles in my lap, in attempt to get comfy.

  15. Lilly decides to lie next to me quietly…

  16. Something happens outside that only the dogs can hear.

  17. Both dogs try to alert me to the outside noises by barking…

  18. and barking and barking and barking…

In spite of all this craziness, It’s totally possible to practice mindful meditation with crazy dogs!

Mindfulness is paying attention in the present moment, without judgement….So, as I sit on my mat, I acknowledge what is going on as it’s happening.

Sometimes…there’s a LOT happening!

Finding an absolutely silent place to meditate isn’t always possible, or necessary. I change my focus from my breath, to sounds and sensations. I listen to the different sounds my dogs are making…and the body sensations of them in my lap, licking my leg, nudging my hand (or whatever their attempt to get attention du jour is).

I also pay attention to emotions as they come up…sometimes frustrations (why can’t they just lie quietly…UGH!)…sometimes joy (the nudging of my hands warms my heart)…sometimes anger (the BARKING!!). I can sense what it feels like in my body when these emotions come up.

Every day is different meditating with dogs in the house. Every moment is different. Sometimes there is silence and calm, sometimes they want more attention, some days, less. It’s a beautiful flow of life!

Do you have massive distractions when you attempt to meditate? How is that for you?

Why I practice

private yoga instructor in Tampa

I have been practicing yoga for 18 years, and meditating for 8 years…I’ve gone in waves of being super diligent in my practice…to completely blowing it off. And, I can ABSOLUTELY tell when I’ve been blowing it off. It’s when I’m NOT practicing that I REALLY understand the reasons why I practice…because the benefits are present when I am being present, and practicing daily.

Here are 3 BIG reasons why I practice:

  1. Less anxiety. This is my absolute #1 reason for both meditation and yoga practice….but ESPECIALLY meditation. I suffered with anxiety for YEARS without even knowing it…until I started meditating. I realized that with a daily meditation practice, the anxiety that has been a constant in my life isn’t there in the way that it used to be. The constant buzz of nerves I felt in my belly (for YEARS without realizing it) goes away when I practice. I now can actually FEEL the anxiety coming on, and have the opportunity to respond to it in a different way…which has absolutely changed my life (I know, I KNOW…this sounds pretty dramatic, but it has been truly life altering!!)

  2. Greater strength. Another biggie. The physical strength that comes from my yoga practice isn’t even as important as the INNER STRENGTH that comes from both yoga and meditation. My practice leaves me feeling empowered.

  3. More self-compassion. So, with yoga I’ve learned over the years to be ok with falling out of tree pose, or my tumultuous relationship with shoulderstand. Truly, I’m ok with it…some days I nail the poses, and some days I don’t. With meditation, I’m ok with the monkey mind…and I can see when my super-judgmental thoughts creep in about it. The biggest benefits come from paying attention without judgement. I think this is why, when I’m not on the mat, or meditation bench, that I’ve gotten so much better with self-compassion.

Does any of this ring true for you? Why do you practice? I’d love to know! Leave your comments below!

finding balance.

balance, equinox, partner yoga

The spring equinox is Wednesday, March 20th….let me tell you…my hippy-people LOVE this stuff! If you go to a yoga class this week, chances are, you’ll hear something about the moon or the equinox.

So, what does this REALLY mean? Well, the equinox is a time when we have almost equal amounts of day and night, right?! Whether or not you believe in the energetic qualities of the different moon phases or seasons, I think it’s a GREAT time to reflect on balance.

You COULD consider grabbing a partner and doing some snazzy yoga-balance poses (like the pic above)…

I’d like to ask you: HOW are you finding balance in your life?…and ARE you finding balance in your life? I’m talking about the balance between DOING and BEING.

We can get so caught up in constantly DOING…that we miss out on the BEING part. I get it! We get super busy! How can you find balance, then? Here are some ideas:

  1. Self care. Take time to take care of YOU. In whatever way that may be.

  2. Get out in nature. If you think my people like moon phases…don’t get us started about EARTHING! Take your shoes off, and walk through the grass, or sand, or anywhere for that matter! Or go for a hike!

  3. Turn off your phone. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Truly be there for each experience you are having.

  4. Meditate. Even if for a few minutes. Take some time to pay attention to your breath.

What do you do to find some balance in your busy life? I’d love to hear them!!

lotus heart meditation

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I have used this meditation at the end of class for years. It's adapted from yogi, Shiva Rea's, Yoga Journal post, and I think it's a great way to help focus the mind internally. Here is a link to the original in Yoga Journal.

5-step Meditation Practice - Dwelling in the Lotus Heart.

Find a comfortable seated position. It can be in a chair, on the floor, on a yoga mat, with your back against the wall, or however you'd like for the amount of time you intend to sit. Setting a timer is a great idea...so you don't have to worry about the time. I love using the Insight Timer app. Rest your hands comfortably in your lap, elongate your spine, and soften your shoulders. Take a few deep breaths, and soften any tension in your body with your exhale.

  1. Begin by reading the following passage from the Upanishads: “Bright but hidden, the Self dwells in the heart. Everything that moves, breathes, opens, and closes lives in the Self-the source of love. Realize the Self hidden in the heart and cut asunder the knot of ignorance here and now.”—The Upanishads (Translated by Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press, 1987)
  2. Bring your attention to your breath. With your next inhale, bring your awareness to the center of your chest. When you exhale, notice any sensations that you feel in your chest. As you keep breathing, continue to notice sensations in your chest...or...as yoga teachers like to refer to it: your "heart center". What does your heart center feel like? Heavy? Light, Warm? Whatever you sense there, just notice.
  3. Next, imagine a beautiful lotus flower in your heart center. Imagine it's petals opening with every inhalation. Stay with this image of the lotus in your heart. Let your awareness rest there.
  4. You can stay with this image of the lotus, or imagine your heart expanding and allow the feelings of love to come up. When other sensations, feelings, or thoughts come up...just notice that they are there, and watch them pass on by. Or, you can let each one rest on the petals of the lotus. Continue to allow your heart to expand with each inhale.
  5. Bring your hands to Anjali Mudra (prayer hands) at your heart, and complete your meditation with a moment of gratitude or reflection. You can bring your awareness to your heart at any time during the day...it will help you to bring forth feelings of love, which is often needed in our crazy swirl of life!