"I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it." ~The Matrix
Meditation has become a generic word, with many interpretations stretching from sitting quietly to deep inward focus. This article will give different perspectives on modern mindfulness and meditation.
What is meditation?
The practice of meditation has been around for millennia. With some of the earliest written records dating back to 1500 BC, it's no wonder our curiosity for its many benefits still exist. But, what exactly is meditation and how do we do it?
The official site of the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), USA, proclaims: “Meditation techniques include specific postures, focused attention, or an open attitude toward distractions. People use this to increase calmness and relaxation, improve psychological balance, cope with illness, or enhance overall health and well-being.” Thus, the definition of meditation is based on a mental process to calm and reduce the psycho-physiologic load on a person.
Merriam-webster.com defines meditation (meditate): to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one's breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.
Yogapedia explains meditation as the process of quieting the mind in order to spend time in thought for relaxation or religious/spiritual purposes. Meditation involves concentrated focus on something such as a sound, image or feeling.
Yoga International states meditation is a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. It is the means for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the center of consciousness within. Yoga International further goes on to say that meditation is not a part of any religion; it is a science, which means, the process of meditation follows a particular order, has definite principles, and produces results that can be verified.
So now that we know meditation has a common underlying theme, concentration, we can begin to look at the benefits and discover ways to begin/enhance our practice.
In meditation, the mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. Our inner state is still and one-pointed so that the mind becomes silent. When the mind is silent and no longer distracted, meditation deepens. This observation or concentration comes with the continued practice of focusing the mind on a particular object and becoming absorbed in it. This absorption is meditation. This experience of absorption is also sometimes called a state of ‘thoughtless awareness’.
This is a state in which the excessive and stress producing activity of the mind is neutralized without reducing alertness and effectiveness. Authentic meditation enables one to focus on the ‘present moment’ rather than dwell on the unchangeable past or undetermined future. It is this state of equipoise that is said to be therapeutic both psychologically and physically and which fundamentally distinguishes meditation from simple relaxation, physical rest or sleep.
Meditation is a systematic process in itself, which takes practice and patience to learn.
The benefits of meditation:
Creating a greater awareness for body and mind, meditation will release the stress/tension from the body allowing our mind to feel calmer, thus creating more ease in our life. "Tension results from clutching too tightly to life..." ~B.K.S Iyengar: Light on Life. With endless to-do lists, constant internal (mind) chatter, stories, past events; tired and stressed, a thousand threads of identity bind us creating stored stress/tension within our body. As we listen to ourselves more and sit in silence, we become more aware of who we actually are. With more peace of mind in daily business/life, we are able to acknowledge the space between external events and our reactions to them thus changing the relationship with our feelings.
In the book Why Buddhism is True by Robert Wright, he states "In mindfulness meditation, as it's typically taught, the point of focusing on your breath isn't just to focus on your breath. It's to stabilize your mind to free it of its normal preoccupations so you can observe things that are happening in a clear, unhurried, less reactive way. Trying to "experience" your feelings -sadness, annoyance, anxiety, relief, joy...- from a different perspective than usual; not changing/clinging to the "good" ones or running away from the "bad" ones, only experiencing them straightforward and observing them as they are." This new perspective is associated with decreased stress/anxiety and heightened awareness to peace.
Meditation may be used with the aim of reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and increasing peace, perspective and happiness. Whatever the method used, meditation calms the body-mind complex, reducing stress, and allowing one to achieve normal homeostasis (auto-regulation of internal environment to a stable state) within the body/mind.
Some science behind the relaxation response:
The parasympathetic 'relaxation' response is the direct result of the reduction of sympathetic activation aka fight or flight response. Psychological stress is associated with activation of the sympathetic nervous system and is known to increase heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of sugar and fat in the blood-think about how you would feel if you unknowingly walked into a hungry lions den...everyday...for the rest of your life=Stress response.
On the other hand, meditation, and any other form of rest or relaxation acts to reduce sympathetic 'stress' activation by reducing the release of catecholamines (epinephrine (adrenalin), norepinephrine, and dopamine) and other stress hormones such as cortisol promoting increased parasympathetic 'relaxation' activity which slows the heart rate and improves the flow of blood to internal organs (ie. digestive tract, which functions optimally when not stressed) and away from the periphery (limbs used to fight or flee).
The practice: Getting started with meditation
With many forms, techniques, and strategies, there are many different strategies and ways on how to meditate. One way to begin is to begin with your breath...
Find yourself a quiet place with no interruptions. Come to a comfortable seated position, sitting maybe in a chair or on a cushion on the floor; don't get to caught up in the physical posture–anything that you can hold comfortably for 5 minutes or more will be a great starting point (The most important thing here is to keep your back straight to prevent your mind from becoming sluggish or sleepy). Start with just 5 to 10 minutes at a time, until you become more familiar/ used to this practice- maybe set a timer or find a soothing song/app that keeps time for you. Remembering to eliminate distractions, turn your phone on airplane mode if using your devise, however, the less technology the less the distraction so finding a time to disconnect without any electronics would be optimal.
Focus/fixate your attention on something. You can begin by attending to or focusing on your breath (. If/when your attention waivers/ if a thought comes, attend to it, notice it, be open to it—and it will pass. Then you can come back to your breath...breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control your breath. Try to become aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. This sensation is our object of meditation. We should try to concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else.
Meditation studios are becoming more and more popular these days. With the need for inclusion and connection, community meditation is on the rise. This mobile version, Be Time, brings a new level of mindfulness and meditative convenience to the community of NYC. Be is a gateway for you to reconnect with yourself and take a breathe(r) and recharge in the midst of the urban hustle. Be offers unique places to meditate with open meditation times and guided sessions at 30 minute intervals its a great way to explore what meditation practice may work best for you.
Be is one of many mobile meditation centers on the rise...Be patient with yourself, explore various techniques, release judgement, set an intention, stay accountable, and above all else BE KIND to yourself on this journey <3
Many times we can get caught up in the how to's of things, especially if its something new and doesn't come with instructions right. Forbid we do something wrong or "mess up"(thanks education system, scared for life because I don't want to fail). Meditation can be one of those things; kinda stressful and filled with uncertainty. What are you supposed to be doing in meditation anyway? How do you even start? Are you supposed to sit? Eyes open or closed? Music or silence? So many questions full of uncertainty, many times it's just easier to say "forget it" and move on without even trying!
Luckily, we are living in a time where resources are quickly and easily at our disposal. I want to share this video with you (no I didn't make it), that is an easy and lighthearted way to come into meditation, reduce stress/tension, smile, and just relax!
I know I am guilty of taking things too seriously at times. This meditation is a great reminder for me to take a step back, breath, and say F'it sometimes and just let go! So sit back, carve out 10 minutes of "me time" and enjoy the meditation. ~Namaste~
"For Druids, celebrating the winter solstice is a recognition that things are difficult and a call for hope that everything will soon improve..."
This solstice has created anxiety among some because of its astrological significance. Dec 21 coincides with two astrological points of interest: the end of Mercury retrograde and the first day the sun (the ruler of the zodiac system) exits Sagittarius (an adventurous, impulsive sign) and enters Capricorn (a steady sign linked to power, patriarchy, and the law). AKA we are moving out of the frying pan and into the fire.
If you recall, we started December with a powerful supermoon under the sign of Gemini (intellect, creativity, ingenuity, and communication). This full moon was about illuminating truth, motives, and intentions. Whatever truths serve your highest good are going to come to the light, so be open to the possibilities. Positive vibes allow us to step into our fullest potential this month.
Mercury went into retrograde from Dec 3-22. Mercury, the messenger of the gods, rules over our mind, allows us to unearth buried thought patterns, reflect on the year past, and gain new information on overlooked opportunities. Mercury can often bring about clarity giving us the opportunity to tap into our subconscious mind and understand things on a deeper level. However, be patient and know that once mercury goes direct the final pieces will fall into place.
As the Sun shifts into Capricorn this solstice, we are going to be reminded to not only reflect on the year gone by but to also slow down and check in with where we are at. It is a good idea to take a moment to pause and work out if your actions are aligned with where you want to be. Over the past several weeks, we have had the opportunity to look within. This solstice energy gives us the opportunity to stay reflective and dig even deeper, to notice what happens on a heart and soul level.
During this time, embrace the energy of change, don't shy away from painful emotions or past regrets that need to be cleared. This can be a very cleansing period if we allow it to be. This Solstice is the perfect time to check in with your soul and to really take responsibility for the direction of your life. Use this Solstice energy to take some downtime, and to really feel the calling of your heart. Notice what direction it is leading you in and see if you are aligning you life in that direction.
This would be an opportune time to release and put what needs to go into the past into the past. Burn your regrets and resentments around a fire or through a candle’s flame. Make amends or reach out to those who need reaching out to with care and compassion. Embark on the process of letting go so that your New Year will feel that much fresh and clear. Journal, meditate, take moments for yourself.
This month has allowed the space to wrap up loose ends before the year ends.
Be gentle on yourself in processing your lessons and growth.
Breathe deep and sink back into the newest version of yourself.
Everyday, we are faced with images of advertisements and social experiments with people laughing, happy, and seemingly in great shape (mentally/physically). And, I would imagine that majority of the human population wants some part of that ideal image. So, I ask, what does that mean for you?
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
― Wayne W. Dyer
I have recently been wandering around looking at people. Not in a creepy way, but in a way that studies how we move. The bio-mechanics of life. It's always interesting to see our relationship with ourselves. The way we move and restrict movement. The way and in what capacity we breathe. Our familiarity of our body as a whole is lacking. Knowing this now, somethings should be done to shift our awareness.
With many fitness programs, our body is broken down into specific parts to work and focus on ourselves as a unit instead of a whole (arms, legs, abs, chest, back, repeat...), however, our body is more magnificent than the pieces we break it into! Our body continuously works as one whole dynamically designed creation performing tasks and recruiting other areas for more help when needed. We work on an all or nothing principle for actions to occur. Our body doesn't half ass it, only our minds.
"The outer world is a reflection of the inner world. Other people’s perception of you is a reflection of them; your response to them is an awareness of you.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
So, the interesting part for me lies within our minds. The way we perceive our reality is the way we show up/react. If life is threatening or scary, we posture ourselves and position ourselves accordingly as protection from eminent danger (survival mechanism). When we are filled with laughter and joy, our body drops its defense and frees up space allowing for new and greater amounts of oxygen rich blood and cellular renewal to occur.
I started thinking about all of this one day when I was thinking about yoga and practicing in front of a mirror. Initially, I was somewhat against mirrors in a yoga studio. The practice is to create a greater inner awareness of self and detach from outward distractions. With a mirror, we can be tied up in the aesthetics of each pose/posture/asana/position. We begin to study our physical self, our outside perception/stories we've attached to this human embodiment....then, I began teaching. The awareness for the majority is just not there. Having previous injuries, emotional traumas....we disconnect from areas of pain, dis-comfort, dis-ease. That awareness needs to be developed again. In order to enhance and improve anything, you have to first acknowledge and see that it is there. We can't fight what we don't see, we can't heal what we don't allow ourselves to feel, and we can't go within without first taking a good look on the outside first.
In practicing yoga, our outer perception will eventually shift. Yoga is dealing with alignment. Aligning your life, your body, your mental, your physical, and your spiritual so you can benefit from the deeper connection we are all seeking. In order to move from one plane to the next with ease, finding, seeing, and transforming the way you see yourself starts from that physical/ego perception of self (on multiple levels).
Have you ever been told to hold a plank or perform push ups and then told you were doing it either incorrectly or instructed on how to improve? How about the time when you went into chaturanga and injured yourself...These alignment cues are what will transcend the stuck/limited/survival instincts and replace them with vital (prana) inner-standing.
Souls journey works on many levels and each person encounters their own journey on a different level from the next. One thing, however, remains a common connection point for all of us and that is alignment. Once your outer world begins to take shape, you align your inner world for a higher inner-standing. Once your inner alignment increases, your physical alignment shifts and your perception of reality changes shape as well.
Use many tools to see, share, and record your progress/self transformation.
With love, light, and gratitude. Namaste
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" ~Hippocrates
Living in tune with nature's rhythms, we become more aware and appreciative of the beauty that surrounds us. As the seasons change, we begin to crave different foods naturally. In the summer we typically want fresh, lighter foods; varieties of melons and berries, fruits and veggies that keep us going, don't weigh us down, and will keep us hydrated.
In the fall we begin to look to more root vegetables and gourds, stuffings, and stews. Slowing down with the slow cooker; warming up with wine. The melons and the berries are canned making wonderful toppings for our seasonal cakes and pies. We begin to prepare for a large feast, family gatherings, and football. This is preparing us for the slower pace of the season.
Winter enters with heavier cooked, warm and satisfying foods, hearty and fulfilling. This is the type of food that adds meat to the bones! Comfort food is in full effect. Hearty casseroles, backed pastas, warming stews and chilis, we have an affinity towards anything that gets slow-cooked, roasted, or baked for maximum coziness.
Then there comes Spring. Reawakening our tastebuds with vibrant living things we begin to tuck away our slow cookers. We look to the garden for inspiration visiting local fresh markets, greengrocers and farmers markets for things that snap and crunch (asparagus, snap peas, salad greens), lightening up the weight of the winter. Why is this important to recognize?
1) Eating whats in season increases our ...plants receive their nourishment from the sun and soil and we receive our nourishment from the plants. Seasonally fresh produce is picked when it's ripe and fully developed meaning higher level of antioxidants, (the good stuff).
2) Seasonal food is more likely to be locally produced reducing the load on the environment due to transportation (food mileage), as well as lighter on our pockets (its less expensive when grown in season and in your city/county/state.)
3) Organic and Free of harmful pesticides! (I call that a WIN). Food grown outside of their season/natural environment is going to need a lot more human assistance in forms of pesticide, wax, chemicals, and preservatives to look appealing to us. In choosing local and seasonal foods, we are more likely to get cleaner and organic products. (Many smaller farms cannot afford organic certifications, however, they follow natural and healthy growing practices meaning less harmful stuff in our food, in our bodies, and in our environment/soil/water.) So support local!
4) Supporting your seasonal needs. The cycles, phases, and transitions are all here to support our growth. The seasonal selection of produce is designed to support our health. Apples grow in the fall and are a perfect transitioning food for helping our bodies get rid of excess heat and cooling down before winter. With the abundance of leafy greens in the spring, we are alkalizing, detoxing and loosing some added weight after a long winter with heavier foods. Summer time is for cooling foods and staying hydrated. Eating more fruits, berries, cucumber, melons are all hydrating foods to keep on hand. In order to facilitate the body's natural healing process, we should look to whats in season.
Find out what's in season in your region here.
There are no destinations, only journies...
Cool nights, warm days, shortening the time we spend in the sun, the fall season has just begun
Happy Fall Equinox Y'all!
The Equinox and Solstice are always times for celebration. We come together to celebrate the cosmic equanimity that surrounds and encompasses us and to celebrate ourselves! WE ARE...In this moment I invite you to turn within, acknowledging the paths that have brought you into this moment, all the trials, all the wins and losses, the failures and the successes. Everything that you have been working hard and diligently for is waiting for you! This is the season to reap your rewards, celebrate your progress, nourish seeds planted, take action. I get excited just thinking about it!
The transformation may not always be aesthetically pleasing, or go as planned, however, it can be a beautiful unfurling. This past season, we have had some powerful natural events occur, from cosmically to the earthly realm, we are everyday awakening to a deeper version of ourselves. The shorter days preparing us for the winter months is a great opposing force asking us to turn in and hold on that light. OUR LIGHT. HIS LIGHT.
At some point today, take some time to breathe deeply, open a window or step outside and look up upon this great and vast creation. Slowing down, reflect...and maybe... if your ambitious, revisit a resolution you have set, an intention for the year, and work like crazy to achieve it, why, because you deserve it.
As I close, I ask that you take a moment to reflect:
What have you cultivated and has brought you joy this past season? Honor it with declaring in celebration what that harvest is for you. Allow yourself to celebrate this
What seeds of insight will you re-plant or like to establish this season? Nourish those goals, ambitions, aspirations. Take action and grow your dreams!
The significance of light and darkness defines our polar selves, the light and the shadows. Breathe deeply. Acknowledge for yourself that these polar opposites exist for you. Declare "I have different rhythms/different parts. Some part of me I like, and some I don't like. BUT these are all parts of me! My parts connect and share energy/information with each other. In this I AM WISE." Breathe deeply. Sit for a while.
Yogic 3 Part Breath is a great practice here. Namaste
The best thing about time is that it waits for no one...
In business, as well as in life, it seems that you never have enough. Time continues to go on with or without you. It the one thing that we notice the most, and once its gone its gone. In certain situations we try to rush time, "I can't wait until this day is over!" or "I'm so ready for the weekend." In another sentence we want to slow it down, "You know what they say, 40 is the new 30." Our lives are filled with colloquial time stamps. ""Time heals all wounds," "Just give it some time..." "Remember that time when...!"
With my picture perfect business, everything falls into place in a timely manner, works out smoothly and just the way I envision, without any major hurdles or obstacles to overcome. In real life, when entering into a new business venture, or pretty much anything for that sake, the ideal we create for ourselves and what actually happens and the time it happens in has no correlating relationship. Or so it seems.
I've been dragging my feet on launching this website because its not exactly where I want it to be in this moment, not right where my vision for it is, and only has 1/3 of what I'm planning on offering. That is scary for me, launching something that isn't fully complete or near the perfect I want it for this moment in time. The beauty of it is that it's not all going according to MY plan. Being a spiritual Being, I understand that I have a plan and a path that is already designed for me. I have to walk in faith and trust the process as it unfolds. I am not completely ready with my project that I'm working on, however, listening to the intelligence within, I know that this is the right time to release it and let it grow and mature in its own right.
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done" ~Bruce Lee
There is no time like the present! I want to joyfully indulge in this moment (because no other will be quite like it!). I've created this website out of joy and positive vibes. I want to create a place where positivity is infectious. We are so hard on ourselves and that emanates out onto others. I want to invite you to a safe space where vibrations are lifted, happiness spreads like wild flowers, and love is a constant presence. Business professionals, entrepreneurs, scholars, students, working, non-working, and everyone in between, we are all radiant works in progress.
So I leave you, this moment in time, with a quote from Steve Jobs. "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."
With love, until next time keep BEING amazing
Yoga Certified, C-PT, Holistic Chiropractor providing a path for peaceful healing.