meditation

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!

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.

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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.

How to Book a Private Yoga Class

private yoga Tampa

Sometime people tell me that yoga is hard for them. It’s got me thinking… is yoga hard or is it hard to show up to public studio classes and overcome judgement?

Everyone’s experience is different and where some people thrive in larger public class settings, others may struggle. And that’s totally okay!

That’s why I recommend private yoga classes!

Private classes come with a judgement-free zone and with a teacher that’s entire attention is on YOU and your wellbeing.


Private classes with Lotus Heart mindfulness

I offer mindful yoga OR mindful meditation for 1-2 people in your home/apartment/recreation center in the South Tampa area.

I also offer private session that are designed 50|50, one part mindful yoga and another part mindful meditation. We start the class with 30 minutes of gentle, mindful yoga, and conclude with a 30 minute meditation.

Classes designed to fit your needs and multi-class passes are available at a discount.


How to Book

Booking a private yoga and/or meditation class with me is super easy!

  1. Set your intention or goals for your yoga sessions. Some people book private classes with me because they have never been to a yoga class before, and are embarrassed to go to a group class. Some book with me because they have body limitations, and attending a studio class is too challenging. Others want to gain flexibility or strength…or have a super-challenging schedule.

  2. Review my private yoga classes and choose which class best suits your needs. I can put together a class just for you, depending on what YOUR experience and intentions are. I think that making yoga convenient is really important.

    1. Are you located locally, in the Tampa Bay area? If so, would you like to be in my private studio setting or would you like me to come to you, in the comfort of your home? I’ve met people at their offices, or even at the beach!

    2. If you’re not local, you might benefit from remote mindfulness meditation classes. Especially if you have a busy or tight schedule because online meditation classes can be held anywhere from your office to your bedroom to a hotel in Peru! View all of my mindfulness meditation classes for more information.

  3. Schedule your appointment! Take a look at your calendar and determine when the perfect time would be for you and I to meet for our private class. I believe that making yoga convenient is really important so I work a class into YOUR schedule.

    1. Sign up for regular classes. I recommend that students sign up for at least four weeks of sessions at a time. This is because consistency is key to adopting healthy habits. Plus, I have multi-class passes available at a discount!

    2. Consider bringing a friend or partner. My classes cater to one to two people at a time. So if you’re taking steps to wellness with a friend or partner, this could be a great opportunity to grow together!

  4. Do your homework. I can get you started on a home practice if you are interested. I make an easy-to-follow practice you can do on your own…until we meet again!

Hopefully this answers some questions you might have had about booking a private class! Feel free to contact me with any extra questions (or leave a question in the comments below!)

How to Find Inner Peace with Meditation

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?

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!!