mindfulness

Forget About Enlightenment

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 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?

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!!