add meaning to what is in front of you. #MeditationThoughtMondays

rock

A Cicada Symphony is my favorite summer concert.   The cicadas (although not the most beautiful insect ever invented) are companions on my evening walks and their song is the soundtrack to summer.  With their chaos in the background, my mind is quiet and free to attend to the embrace of the muggy summer air, the sharpness of the cut grass, and the fading evening light.  The white noise helps me appreciate singular elements of the summer evening that would be otherwise unnoticed.  It helps me appreciate what is already right in front of me.

You’ll remember from this Meditation Thought Monday article that we are exploring the concept of Silence this summer. Silence can do the same thing as the Cicada Symphony: it can attract meaning to the mundane.  When you have a comfortable relationship with silence, it becomes a backdrop that allows your mind/spirit to allocate meaning to ‘the little things’ that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Silence helps you appreciate what is already right in front of you.

In his book Silent Compassion, author and Franciscan Monk Richard Rohr points out that, “If something is not surrounded by the vastness of silence, it is hard to appreciate it is something singular and beautiful.  If it is all mixed in with everything else, then its singularity, as a unique and beautiful object, does not stand out.”

In this way, silence attracts meaning.  To add more meaning to the present moment, and all the little things that are already right in front of you:

Try this Meditation exercise:

  • Find a stone. It does not need to be especially remarkable.  In fact, it may be more useful if it is ordinary.
  • Find a piece of blank paper. Draw a line through the middle it. The line can be vertical or horizontal.
  • Place the stone right in the middle of the line. Place it right in front of you.  Sit with it for 5 minutes.

Notice how the stone attracts greater and greater meaning the more time you spend with it.

Notice how the stone anchors you in the present moment.  If the line represents time: then the timeline extends infinitely into the past and into the future. The silence around the stone, however, brings meaning and singular attention to the individuality of the stone and of the moment.

Inspiration from Richard Rohr:

“Silence is … a portal to constantly deeper connection with whatever is in front of you.  That which is in front of you does not need to be big or important.  It can be a stone.  It can be a grasshopper. Anything can convert you once you surround it with the reverent silence that gives it significance, identity, singularity, importance or value.”

Practice this Meditation Technique every day this week.  Notice how your relationship with the stone changes and notice how your relationship with silence changes.

rock

New to Meditation?  You’ll enjoy these Meditation Challenges, too:

sitting quietly

you have time

vacate. daily.

learn to meditate. your way.

Ashtanga Alignment Workshop September 19-20

Image

Sept 2015 Ashtanga Alignment Workshop ASH

 

This workshop will focus on how to perform the Primary Series poses with alignment that is best for your body.  Whether you are a beginner or you have been practicing for many years, you will learn something new.  You may attend a single session or register for both sessions.  Classes will be primarily active asana.

Saturday September 19, 2:30- 5:00 pm and Sunday September 20, 2:30-5:00 pm

Please Register through Maya Yoga KC.  Email info@mayayoga.com or Sign Up in Person.  Please note: limited registration.

See you there!

dream big. #MeditationThoughtMondays

dream big start now

Dream Big. Start Small. Act Now.

It’s here. Finally! The Yoga Teacher Training Retreat I’ve been eagerly awaiting for over a year!  Honestly, I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for five years.

2015 was devoted to professional development in our household.  I undertook the next leg of my yoga teacher training journey to earn my 500 Hour RYT certification and my Ironman passed professional development engineering tests like they were no big deal. Suffice it to say we logged a fair few hours of early morning and weekend studying. But we have big dreams, so we have to start somewhere small and act now.

The retreat is near Napa, California, (don’t worry, most of my regularly scheduled classes are still taking place) so I’m spending twelve days in one of my favorite places on Earth.  With other yoga teachers.  Nerding out on spinal anatomy and stockpiling fresh mountain air to bring back to the Midwest with me.

Five years ago, I flew to Portland, Oregon to take classes with a Vinyasa Teacher named Tiffany Cruikshank.  She is the founder of Yoga Medicine and a foremost leader on using Yoga and nutrition to return Optimal Health back to the body.  The Yoga Medicine brand was still in its infancy when I first met Tiffany, but I loved her vision and craved her expertise.  I couldn’t afford to take a retreat with her at the time. (And I was headed out of the country the following year to work for HealthEd Connect.  If you haven’t read some of my Zambia stories, start here.)  Since then, I’ve been saving pennies for the opportunity to study with Tiffany and the Yoga Medicine Team.  It’s been a Dream Big.  That required a multitude of Small Acts.

It’s my dream to become the healthiest I can be and to inspire others to become healthier through my teaching.  It’s my dream to contribute to the health, happiness and wholeness of my community by sharing wisdom and encouraging my students.  It’s a Big Dream.  That requires Small Acts.  And I’m Starting Now.

What’s your dream?  What small act can you take today toward your dream?  What small act can you take tomorrow?  I can’t wait to hear about it!  I’ll see you when I get back….

Happy Dreaming,

-lisa

 

are my emotions helpful? #MeditationThoughtMondays

need light and dark

 

The shorts were Radioactive.  I couldn’t wear them without putting on sunglasses.  These shorts were beyond-bright: my sister called to say she could see me walking down the road.  She lives in Washington D.C.

I usually avoid neon.  At all costs.  But I traded in a pair of old hiking shorts for this pair of orange running shorts from the free pile at Westport Yoga.  And I thought, ‘Why not? They’re free, and I’ve been craving color in my life lately.

Slide my closet door open and you’ll see the same four colors: black, grey, white, and teal.  The best colors, in my opinion.  (It makes packing for a trip super easy when everything I own matches!)  But this year, summer inspired me to break out of my monochromatic obsession and add vibrant colors to my life. I picked a terrible shade of neon green for a pedicure, I snagged (free!) neon shorts for my wardrobe, and purchased a planter of pink flowers for my front porch.

I’m usually one for blending in: I had to give myself a mental pep-talk to wear those neon shorts in public, knowing that I was a walking billboard for all things conspicuous.  It made me wonder:  Why do I feel so exposed?  What am I trying to hide? 

I’m generally a very open, transparent person.  But I definitely have feelings, reactions, and habits that I’m not particularly proud of.  It is the nature of being human to experience both ‘positive’ feelings and ‘negative’ feelings.  In yoga classes, I try to teach my students to closely examine their reactions to a certain pose but not to judge them.  For instance, instead of thinking, ‘I’m terrible at this pose because my arms aren’t long enough and I’m too weak to hold myself up and I’m never going to be good enough to do it, we more accurately think, ‘I’m experiencing frustration.’

I’m consistently asking students to examine their thoughts and consider: ‘Are my thought patterns helpful?’  This nonjudgmental attitude takes practice and patience to develop.  Eventually, we may get to the point where we don’t judge our undesirable emotions as ‘negative’ we just see them as a natural expression of energy.  And we know that we have the capacity, and the propensity, to experience emotions across the spectrum.  (Remember this article about how emotions can be seen in the body as different colors?)  It’s nothing to hide.  It’s part of being human.

According to yoga philosophy, each person is a unique mix of ‘light’ and ‘dark’ energies.  One energy is called Pingala.  This energetic quality can be described as: active, strong, bright, hot, masculine.  The other complimentary energy is called Ida.   This energetic quality can be described as: passive, yielding, dim, cold, feminine.  The Yoga Philosophy also borrows terms ‘yin and yang’ from the Daoist tradition.

The state of balance between these two energies is always dynamic.  Stand on one foot long enough and you will see: balancing is never a static act.  These energies are always in flux within our physical bodies and in our emotional states.  Sometimes we are strong, decisive, demanding, and active.  After a entire day of this energy in a hectic workplace, we arrive home drained, indecisive, yielding and tired.

We need both the Pingala and the Ida in order to feel balanced.  We need the light and the dark.

It helps me to remember that I am a range of human experiences and emotions:  it never has to be ALL or NOTHING.  It’s ok for me to be 60% happy and 40% frustrated.  And it’s ok for me to be 99% content and 1% jealous.  It’s ok for me to experience both the light and the dark.  Both can be helpful.  And if my thoughts are unhelpful—well then—I don’t need to keep them. 

need light and darkLike the neon shorts, I can wear them once, and then send them on their merry way.  I’m not sure if those shorts will stay in my dresser until next summer.  But I have them now, so maybe I can learn to appreciate them.

What feelings or habits do you need to examine?  When can you ask yourself: ‘Are my thoughts helpful?’  How can you learn to embrace both the light and the dark?

Happy Healing,

-lisa