mindfulness

Mindful Poetry: 3 Poems for Yoga

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Let’s go back to our roots on this page.

While there might not be a lot of poems which feature yoga specifically, there are quite a few good ones that are reminiscent of yoga and go through some poses.

John O’Donohue was an Irish poet who is known for bringing Celtic spirituality into the world of poetry.

The excerpt of his poem, “A Morning Offering,” I included can be said before beginning a yoga flow, or as a mantra in the morning to remind you to take on the day.

I included another American Poet Laureate in the blogs, this time Robert Hall, whose poem, “Within the Body You are Wearing,” reminds us of our lifelong mates… ourselves.

Who we are at our centers is who we will be with for the rest of our lives, it’s time to calmly face them and take them in.

Finally, Corinne Titus is a particularly exciting poet to include, as she is one of my students!

Her poem, “Morning Ballet” combines both her lifelong knowledge of ballet and classical dance with yoga, which she has just begun to learn.


A Morning Offering (Excerpts)

John O’Donohue

 

All that is eternal in me

Welcomes the wonder of this day.

 

May my mind come alive today

To the invisible geography

That invites me to new frontiers,

To break the dead shell of yesterdays,

To risk being disturbed and changed.

 

May I have the courage today

To live the life that I would love,

To postpone my dream no longer

But do at last what I came here for

And waste my heart on fear no more.

 

May I live this day

 

Compassionate of heart,

Clear in work,

Gracious in awareness,

Courageous in thought,

Generous in love.


Within the Body You are Wearing

Robert Hall

Within the body you are wearing, now

inside the bones and beating in the heart,

lives the one you have been searching for so long.

But you must stop running away and shake hands,

the meeting doesn’t happen without your

presence . . . your participation.

The same one waiting for you there

is moving in the trees, glistening on the water,

growing in the grasses and lurking in the shadows you create.

You have nowhere to go.

The marriage happened long ago.

Behold your mate.


Morning Ballet

Corinne Titus

 

The sunlight pas de chat’s through my window on soft,

grey, clawed kitten paws to knead my eyelids.

I have always been a fitful sleeper.

 

Joints mumble their complaints to the morning,

their occasional curse word the loud pops

that disturb my mother. She thinks I will fall to pieces.

 

The dance is yoga, but the foundation holds.

My arms content themselves to find fifth position

over my head, then dive towards the floor, a downward dog. 

 

The balls of feet rise in an eleve, the shoulders strain, the body slants,

my hamstrings scream at me. Pressure pools

in my wrists and ankles, smaller versions of past breaks.


Let me know which of the poems spoke to you most! Are there any phrases that stood out to you, or things you didn’t understand?

Let me know in the comments!


If you’re interested in bringing a little bit of yoga or mindfulness meditation into your life, 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!

How to Promote Peace Within Yourself

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September 21st, was a day dedicated to peace.

Peace of all sorts, from ceasefires in war torn areas of the world to making nice with that neighbor whose plants always seem to creep over into your yard.

Peace is something that the world could use a lot more of, at least in my opinion. Not just for war torn countries or impoverished places, but inner peace as well.

Often we can get so caught up in looking at the big picture that we forget we’re a part of it, especially in an age where information about things happening on the other side of the globe can get to your computer in 0.0001 seconds.

Lets extend the message behind the International Day of Peace for not just one day, but for the whole year.

Here are some simple ways you can promote inner peace in your daily life!

If you need a little peace inspo here’s a link the the 48-hr Peace Cast, a video montage designed to promote peace and growth!


How do I promote peace within myself?

Well, there are several ways to go about this, lifehack.org cautions its readers to remember not to accept an invitation to every fight or piece of chaos that could enter their lives.

You control what enters and exits your life at the end of the day.

Another helpful tip is to focus on your breathing for 5 minutes everyday. (Hint, hint this is the most basic form of mindfulness meditation!)

Focusing on your breathing allows you to take stock, number one, of the physical things that are happening within your body (heart rate, breathing, how your body feels, what is sore, etc…) and within your mind.

Often you’ll find that it is hard to simply focus on your breath without thinking of anything else, and that’s okay!

The key with mindfulness meditation is that you don’t hastily try to redirect your thoughts, allow yourself to gently return to focusing on your breathing and take note of what distracted you.


Got Peace?

We all live busy and stressful lives, very few things are simple, which, that’s just the nature of life.

However, there are certain things and environments that can inspire peace and tranquility within all of us, I felt a true sense of calm and well-being come over me when I flipped through this album of photos from World Peace Day!

I have been experiencing some interesting symptoms since beginning my search for inner peace, which I think this blog post pretty much nails:

1. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.

2. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

3. A loss of interest in judging self.

4. A loss of interest in judging others.

5. A loss of interest in conflict.

6. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

7. A loss of ability to worry (this is a very serious symptom).

8. Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

9. Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.

10. Frequent attacks of smiling through the eyes of the heart.

11. Increasing susceptibility to love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

12. An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than to make them happen.

Putting aside a little bit of time per day to foster a sense of inner peace has some pretty amazing effects, not just for yourself, but for the people in your life who you care about.

So, let’s celebrate the International Day of Peace, not just for a day, but for the whole year.


Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.
— Wayne W. Dyer

For more inner peace quotes to inspire you, here’s a blog with quite a few gems!

If you want to start your journey towards inner peace and tranquility within yourself 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!


Monthly Must-Haves: Incense and the Basics

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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

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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!

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,


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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?

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.


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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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

Experiencing the Present VS. 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.

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?

The Real Reason of Why I Practice Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation

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!

4 Awesome Ways to Find Balance in Your Life

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!!