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meditation update

13 Oct

 

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In an attempt to meditate more frequently I signed up for a month-long membership at Unplug Meditation. It’s a guided meditation studio in Los Angeles that offers 30 and 45 minute group meditation sessions. They range from mantras to crystal healing classes. While I would like to get to a point where I am meditating by myself at home, I thought a group atmosphere and guided practice might jumpstart my practice again. I was right. This place is a little oasis and it makes meditation easy. It’s a calm atmosphere with soft light and candles. They offer cushions that fold into little chairs on the ground- you can keep them flat if you want to lie down or fold it to give you support when you sit. These cushions are pure gold- I’ve found that if I am not physically comfortable during my practice then my mind never stills. Instead I’m focused on the fact that my foot is falling asleep and my back is aching.

I’ve taken a range of classes at Unplug led by a different people and found that each teacher brings a whole new energy to the practice. One guided meditation that I absolutely loved (it may sound a little strange) the teacher led us back to the days of our ancestors- we weren’t told how far to go back so I decided to visualize 100 years or so back. I found myself standing by myself on a hilltop in Ireland…different shades of green as far as the eye could see…I could literally feel the wind in my face and hear the waves crashing on the rocks below. It was so incredibly powerful. I felt tethered to all that came before me. It was interesting letting my mind explore the new world- I wandered villages, watched people work, children play & animals wander.

When I left class that morning my perspective had shifted from what I could only see and touch in front of me to a vast and endless world beyond…past, present & future. It’s truly amazing where your mind can take you.

My visualization looked much like these photos…

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Slea Head - County Kerry Ireland

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My membership ends at the studio soon (after the month-long new student deal it’s pretty pricy to continue- major bummer!) so I will have to develop a space in my home that inspires me to calmly want to sit for long periods of time. Preferably one that Frank can’t bring his tennis ball into.

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For any of you interested in meditation here are some tips that have worked for me.

meditating in the morning before the day begins. I find my head space is clearer at this time

setting a timer for a desired amount of time so my focus can be on my practice and not the clock

stretching my body before so I feel less restless and more open

putting on light music or an online guided meditation (these free guided meditations are great)

focusing on my breath to anchor in the present moment

lastly, when unwanted thoughts appear I gently let them go by returning my focus to my breath. Don’t try to stop your thoughts; this will just make you feel agitated. Imagine that they are unwelcome visitors at your door: acknowledge their presence and politely ask them to leave.

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“Meditation is to dive all the way within, beyond thought, to the source of thought and pure consciousness. It enlarges the container, every time you transcend. When you come out, you come out refreshed, filled with energy and enthusiasm for life.”
David Lynch

 

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enjoying where you are

6 Aug

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I’ve been thinking a lot about how much time we spend as human beings wishing we were already at the next step- turning 10, driving, turning 21, graduating, turning 30, more successful, thinner, richer, a home owner, married, a parent, a parent of two, retired etc. The list goes on. We are conditioned to always be wishing we were somewhere else. I am guilty of this. I often find that I forget to take in the step in which I am currently residing. Being present exactly were I am. The step I once longed to obtain that now feels like no big deal. There was a time not too long ago that I longed to be a wife, a home owner, working steadily as a fit model & of course a frenchie owner (!) If you would have told me that I would attain all those things I would have told you that I would be content. But that’s never the case, is it? Now that all those things are mine, I find myself longing to be in the next steps…motherhood, living in a bigger house with a bigger yard, a small business owner, making money full-time as a writer and an owner of two frenchies! Well, I’m kind of kidding about the two frenchies. I don’t think Frank would approve. He’s a one man show.

While I’m sure all those things that I wish for will bring me great joy when and if they happen, I am trying to instead pull great joy from what already is. Being grateful for what my life already looks like and let go of all the things I am hoping to get to next. I want to absorb every single joy, lesson, laugh and moment that my life has to offer me today.

Because it all passes by too quickly.

Just the other day I was reminiscing about our old apartment. Missing it, actually.  Granted when we lived in that apartment I couldn’t wait to get out of it. And now look, I miss it. I miss the simplicity of it. Life continues to get bigger and richer and fuller. I’m pretty sure as my life continues to grow, I will look back at this exact time in my life and miss it. When there are children running around our house, I’m sure I will miss the quiet I now take for granted. When we move to that bigger house with a bigger yard one day, I’m sure I will miss the place we live in now. I’ll probably feel overwhelmed with the new lawn. When we open our small business, I’m sure there are going to be days that will be completely overwhelming and I will wish I could go back to the simplicity and freedom of working as a fit model. I’ll long for the days when I tried on clothes for a living. When I finally do publish my first book, I’m sure I will start thinking about what the next one should be.

The cycle never seems to end. When are we ever happy with what is? Without immediately trying to get to the next step?

So today I am trying to remain completely present in what life currently looks like with no attachment to all that is still to come…or not to come…or might come.

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“True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.”
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

 

road trip inspiration – big sur

23 Jul

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I’m back in road trip planning mode after a long break. As I’ve mentioned before, we originally planned on doing this trip last spring but life got in the way so we decided to push it to fall. Although, now that we’ve settled on fall I wonder why I ever thought spring was the right time to go? With a chill in the air and the leaves changing fall seems like the better choice. Am I right? At first I thought we’d travel in November to tie it in with our 2nd wedding anniversary but then I thought maybe the weather could become an issue at that time? Could we possibly hit snow as we get further North? Anyway, the fear of sketchy weather made me go with early October instead. Now that we have dates on the calendar I am getting excited. I feel like I am planning a mini version of the cross-country road trip I took a few years ago. I love the planning process- it gives me such a rush researching each city.

The first stop on our itinerary is Big Sur, one of the most magical places on earth, in my opinion. The scenery is breathtaking- rocky cliffs, blue ocean, sandy beaches and tree covered coastal mountains all rolled into one. It also smells incredible there- like fresh pine trees.

Brian and I have been to Big Sur a few times together. The first was when he introduced me to camping (it happened to be one of my ten goals when I started this blog four years ago- an experience you can read about here, here & here) The second trip was on our mini moon after getting married in 2013. As you can probably imagine Big Sur holds a special place in my heart.

Despite having traveled there a few times I still feel like I have so much to explore. I’m dying to visit the Esalen Institute. How have I never been there?

Here are some of my inspiration photos for stop one. Do any of you lovely folks have Big Sur recommendations? Restaurants? Coffee joints? Hikes? Hotels? Drives? Anything!

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images found via pinterest

 

the four rooms

21 Jul

 

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There is an Indian proverb that says “everyone is a house with four rooms, a mental, a physical, an emotional, and a spiritual. It is said that most of us live in one room most of the time but unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not complete person.” Interesting thought, don’t you agree? The idea is based on the principle that when our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual selves are in alignment – we can more fully manifest the life we desire. This idea resonates with me. I find that when one of my rooms is out of sorts it affects everything in my life. I feel unbalanced. Off kilter. Anxious. Reactive.

So how does one balance their four rooms?

I pulled some excerpts from the beautiful site The Intentional Workplace that explain how to tend to your four rooms. Again, not my words. Enjoy!

Room one- the mental room 

The power of thought is one of the most creative forces in the Universe. Some would say – the most powerful. We don’t usually give a second thought to thinking, but our thoughts are constantly creating our experiences.

The language we use – to think and speak – is the narrative of our inner and outer world . Look around the room you are sitting in now; in the purest sense, everything in it is the product of someone’s thought. Our thoughts are the domain in which we can exercise our greatest control. Not rigid or authoritarian control, but choice. In the moment to moment choices we make, we demonstrate the power of our thought.

The scope of our control over thought continues to be understood through neuroscience. According to a recent study discussed in Nature, researchers stated,“Individuals can rapidly, consciously and voluntarily control neurons deep inside their head.” While it is important not to underestimate the challenge of controlling our thinking (especially where there is history of emotional or physical trauma) the news from science is very encouraging.

We’re entering an era where we understand that our thoughts need not be victims to external influence, but are the epicenter of our own life force and behavioral direction.

Room two- the emotional room 

This is the room where our feelings reside. Neuroscience has shown that our feelings do not simply emanate from one part of our brain (the limbic system), so we can imagine that this room is vast. It encompasses our entire body. You have more neural networks for feeling in your stomach and heart than anywhere else in your body.

Some of us ignore this room. It’s like the extra back room, filled with clutter, that seems like just too much work to organize. Others spend way too much time in the emotional room, reacting on auto-pilot to life’s events, rather than using the knowledge of the mental room for balance.

The tools of emotional intelligence can give us a whole new level of freedom in which to explore this room. We tend to think of this room as a messy place filled with anger, anxiety, resentment, impatience and frustration. While there should be a welcome sign on this room’s door for all of our feelings, remember that this is also the room where calmness, confidence, contentment, satisfaction, love, joy, empathy and compassion live. There is room for all.

The way we breathe is an important clue to how we relate to our emotions. Feelings of anger, fear, jealousy, resentment and frustration are all emotions that contracts us physically (and mentally). These feelings pull us in, forcing our breathing to become very shallow, even halting. Yet, when we experience feelings of contentment, calmness, elation and gratitude, we feel a sense of breathing out – of expansion. Even emotions that some might think of as sad, such as empathy and compassion – provide us with a feeling of release.

I have long contended that every emotion has the potential to be a resource in our lives. Feelings are an exquisite source of information about our experience. They do not lie. They are a blueprint of the truth of our experience. They reliably chart whether we are living our values or not. They brilliantly point to how we are meeting our needs or not.

The emotional room is a powerful place to reflect on your truth. Visit it with curiosity (one of the “neutral” emotions) and leave your judgment by the door. You are there to listen, learn and be humbled by your humanness.

Room three- the physical room 

Being awake and alive requires many of us to basically shift our relationship to our bodies. Most of us are spending too much time “in our heads,” cut off from our senses and the messages from our bodies. Most of the time, we’re not listening – we’re pushing. Our miraculous bodies often take a beating from us and deserve more TLC.

More rest. Better nutrition. More movement. Better posture. More hydration. Less criticism. Less stress. More self-love. It all counts. The body serves us over and over even when we deny its basics needs. How often do we “thank you?”

The core of our being is our breath or Prana in Sanskrit, Ha in Hawaiian and Chi in Chinese. In order to regain our natural connection to our body’s life force, we need to change our relationship to how we breathe. It is the key that unlocks the door between the mind and the body.

As we race from one task to the other, we rarely given our bodies a thought. Too many of our bodies are anesthetized by busyness. The reclamation of our relationships to our bodies should be one of our highest priorities.

Enter the physical room often. Bring your appreciation. Bring your respect. Celebrate this glorious temple of your life.

Room four- the spiritual room 

This room isn’t about doing – it’s about being. It’s doesn’t have to be about religion or ideology. It is the room where your spirit comes alive – where it feels free. It is the room that reflects and shares the immensity of YOU. So many wonderful gifts live in this room – too many untouched.

The gifts in this room don’t have to be marketable, branded, explained, justified or perfect. They simply need the space to go where your intuitive sense takes them.

Living in this room requires that we more closely define what inspires and brings us joy. Whatever the experience – being in nature, working with passion, being with those we love, sharing ideas, caring for those in need, painting a picture, creating a wonderful meal, traveling to places we love – bring us into alignment with the spiritual room.

Whenever we visit this room, we integrate all four rooms in harmony. In this room, we find new sources of creativity, energy and peace. Here we discover what truly feeds us – the source of the real needs behind the endless quest for self-expression.

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