So this is funny. My morning practice area has been everywhere from sitting next to the washing machine, to my bedroom, the living room, the kitchen and even in the bathroom (when I am on a surf trip with my son and have to be quiet because he is sleeping) hahahaha. Wherever I can sit with a cushion and a mat (even folded up in half). You don’t need that much room.
The most important thing is to have a little pillow or something to sit on so that your spine is straight. This is important because if you are tight in the hamstrings etc., you will hunch or curve your lower back and hips. When you sit on a cushion it straightens your spine.
When I first started I was very curved. This will get better as you relax those tight muscles in your hamstrings and hips. The space should have enough room to straighten your legs and to be able to stand up and move a bit.
Remember as you begin this no matter what your level is or what your body’s limitations are, this is a practice for everyone. It is not a “perfect” science. It is about progress and doing what you can and feeling fantastic about that. That was a big mind shift for me. Not beating myself up for being tight and antsy but doing what I could and every day getting a little more flexible, a little calmer, and a little quieter in the mind. That is the big payoff that keeps me coming back day after day. It is worth it.
Being present. Really present.
It means not thinking about what just happened or what you have to do in five minutes, five hours, tomorrow, or next month.
Instead, it’s feeling your feet on the floor, seeing what is around you, hearing the sounds, smelling the scents, touching and really feeling. Experiencing the world around you through your senses.
Do you remember when you were a kid and you had to close your eyes and be quiet for one minute and then the teacher would ask what did you hear? Some kids heard a door creaking, an airplane flying over, the whirl of the air conditioning. I do this a lot, still to this day.
If I catch myself thinking about future stuff and worried about “what ifs” then this is a perfect exercise that plops me right back into the now. Which is all we really have. I love what Eckhart Tolle said:
“In every moment you must feel at least
one of these things to be present:
joy, enthusiasm, and/or acceptance.”
Well, obviously when you are doing something you love, joy and enthusiasm are no problem. It is when the unexpected “problem” arises that can teach us true acceptance. Ugh, I know, sometimes when it’s bad we don’t want to accept it. But then we make it bigger, uglier, scarier and usually it lasts a lot longer.
Why is this so important? Well, in coaching we are working on our life’s intentions; a purpose that comes from deep within us and is a living spirit behind our goals and dreams. For example: to be a loving family member, to be a creator of beauty, to be financially successful. It is a longing to be known for something that we contribute to life. Being present is a way to get into the flow of the energy that can really move us forward on our journey to grow and develop!!! Isn’t that worth playing for?
And if we are looking at challenges as happening FOR us, then accepting them, even in the toughest moments of the challenge, will move us further and faster than anything else. If you have skied you know you have to lean into the mountain but it is counterintuitive and really scary at first. But once you do it, you then have more control, speed, and flow on the mountain. So next time you feel yourself say, ugh, I wish it wasn’t like this or I don’t want it to be this way, take a breath, if you can, close your eyes, feel your feet on the ground, hear the sounds around you, smell the place where you are, and feel what you are touching. Let that bring you to the now and accept what it is.
Happy, happy Tuesday
Love you all!!!
What is your storm? Where do you need to remain calm so you can really thrive and not just get by?
I can remember when my daughter was a competitive volleyball player. There was so much pressure not only to beat the other team but for her position on the team. Brutal pressure, that at age 13, made the sport unnecessarily un-fun.
I was a competitive athlete in an individual sport which was a different pressure that I had experienced. Yet, when I played on my college team I remember how hard it was to always be fighting for your spot on the team. Playing against other teams was easy but always vying for a place on my own team was the harder challenge for me. During one game at an all day tournament one of her team-mates began hyperventilating from stress and anxiety. They rushed her off the court and into the medical station. I followed, as her parents were not at the event that day. I felt like she needed support. She could not breath at all and was gasping for air in a panic. I grabbed a brown paper bag and had her breath long and deep into the bag. She started calming down and getting air. Finally we just sat, breathing. And eventually she felt better and was able to return to the game.
We so often forget that the breath is the gateway to the mind especially when we are in a high stakes or high stress situation. This can also relate to road rage or just frustration in general when someone is really bugging you. We've heard it said: "take a breath" but in those stressful settings, we forget. Next time, stop yourself and go inside to the breath. Hold the breath and count to 10, then exhale counting to 10 so that it is an equal inhale to exhale and do this until you feel the shift in your energy. If 10 is too long then count to 5 but also do that exhale to 5.
Be the boss of your breath, conscious of the inhale and exhale, you are in charge of it instead of letting the breath (or lack of it) control you. This simple technique is how you can begin to control your mind, thoughts and focus. Try this out for yourself. When you feel irritated, even if it is waiting in line at Starbucks or the grocery store, but you can feel your anxiety rise. Take an inhale, counting to 5, fill up, then hold the breath for a 5 count and then slowly exhale to a 5 count. Do it at least 5 times. Then feel the sensation. All of this is experiential. Try it where you need it most. Let me know how it works for you and what your experience is. I would love to hear.
What is the point? Ever wonder that? When things are hectic and seem to just be passing by so quickly and you feel like you are not getting things done that you really want to do: what is the point? Familiar?
Well, the point is to figure out why you are here, what is your purpose. That is the work. It may be that you need to discover it, that you don’t know, or have felt that it’s shifted to something else. Or maybe you need to uncover it because it is buried among millions of to dos. Take a look and see.
Really . . . notice, spend some time on this. It could even be a question you ask yourself before you meditate, let it float, don’t push for the answer, just ask it. You know when you are looking for something it could be a bill or a document (right now for me, it is my extra camera battery which I put in a safe place hahaha) and you just thought you knew where you put it but it’s not there and you know you didn’t lose it. You look and look and can’t find it anywhere. Then you stop and let it go. Then you find it, maybe not immediately, but it shows up.
Has this happened to you? This happens to me often which is frustrating but it also always proves to me that when I let it go and surrender the answer comes.
In coaching we talk about “the hero’s journey”, a metaphor from Joseph Campbell. On our hero’s journey, as we step out into the unknown and overcome challenges and fears, we arrive at a new way of being that propels us forward toward living our bliss. Now, bliss doesn’t mean it was or is easy but that we are on our path, the path of our purpose.
Spend time on this. Even if it is 5 minutes a day. Ponder it and then let it go. When you get the hit, a light bulb goes off or an idea pops in, take an action, a small sweet, doable step towards it every day. That is the point. That is fulfilling. That is worth playing for and keeping on the front burner!!!
Love you all.
Happy Happy Tuesday
Meditation for the Original You
Courtney Gebhart, Life Coach, Kundalini Yoga teacher, and Human Being.