looking for fulfillment? (it’s here: the next Meditation Workshop)

“A genuine sense of fulfillment, associated with inner freedom is a sparkling experience of inner well-being. It is knowing how to enjoy the present moment, the willingness to nurture altruism and serenity and to bring the best part of ourselves to mature—transforming oneself to better transform the world.”  -M. Ricard

December 2015 Intro to Meditation Flyer

“Meditation gives you what nothing else can give you—it introduces you to yourself.”  -Swami Rama

Sundays December 6, 13, and 20.  2:30- 4:00 pm @ Westport Yoga KC.

This 3-part series is a perfect introduction to Meditation.  Meditation is a concrete tool to discover a deep sense of fulfillment.  In these courses, we will explore modern-day benefits of meditation and how you can integrate the practice into your daily life.

In each session, we will learn Meditation techniques which cultivate attention, deepen focus, and embrace stillness.  We will practice mindfulness to help you express emotions safely, we will learn breathing meditations to reduce stress, and we will employ Mantras in order to find our personal best.  We will practice meditation in an encouraging group setting and engage in conversation with classmates.

Meditation is an important aspect of the yoga philosophy.  Four of the eight limbs of the Ashtanga Yoga System are concerned with meditation: Pratyhara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.  If all you’ve ever done is “yoga-on-the-mat”  then you haven’t really done yoga.  register today– spots are limited and are filling up quickly!

$45 Westport Yoga Members– Click here to purchase

$55 Open Registration —  Click here to purchase

(Limit 22 students.  There are no refunds for this workshop.)

 

why you want to be a decade older.

generous oddsThis month, I’m celebrating one more decade of lived experiences.  Most of my readers and students have already reached (and survived) this birthday milestone.  Congratulations and Happy Birthday to you.   Many of you are offering comfort by parroting the popular reassurance: “Thirty is the new twenty! Live it up!”  (Thank you, but I’m only slightly concerned about being older—I mean, I’m occasionally asked which high school I attend.)  So, what I am thinking about as I age into the next decade?  How I can use this birthday milestone as inspiration to refine my life. 
On birthdays, I think it’s helpful to reflect on the most recent year of life.  I have noticed that days, weeks, months and years seemingly speed up the older I get.  Which makes me wonder: “What moments did I allow to escape my notice? Which minutes did I miss?”  After all, as Annie Dillard reminds us, how I spend my moments is how I spend my life.

I also think it’s helpful to set intention for the next year on your birthday.  My intention for the next decade basically fell into my lap as I was listening to my favorite podcast, On Being with Krista Tippett.  In her interview with Adam Grant, professor of psychology at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Give and Take, Krista hypothesized that generosity may increase with age because we age past the mindset of self-building and age into the mindset of community-building.  Adam Grant corroborated this with data from his research that found, “Basically, every decade you age, your odds of being generous go up and up.” 

Basically, just by waking up on November 16, 2015, my odds of being generous increase.

2015-09-26 09.39.11 HDR-1

Are you kidding me?  That’s fantastic!  It’s a completely factual, data-driven phenomena that I will become more generous every day I live.  It’s completely opposite of the fear-based, media-driven campaign that I will become more prone to life-threatening wrinkles, unwanted aches and pains, and ‘life will never slow down for successful women in their thirties who want a family and a career’ induced anxiety.

Happy Birthday to me!

With that in mind, how will I refine my life over the next decade?  I surely can’t give all of my time, resources, and energy away indiscriminately.  Adam Grant’s research also showed that Givers were more successful, happy, and healthy when they exercised clearly defined boundaries about how they gave and when they gave.  So my personal challenge, and my challenge to you, is to focus on what Adam Rifkin termed “The five-minute-favor.”   Adam Rifkin posited that tech start-ups in Silicon Valley function on a favor economy and that a five minute favor can make a huge impact in your personal success.

In Five Minutes, I can:

  • call someone just to listen
  • pick up my neighbor’s recycle bin and take it to her front porch
  • start chopping vegetables for dinner
  • write a note of encouragement to a co-worker
  • share a blog post that will inspire a friend
  • recommend a book that has changed my life
  • allow a driver to go first on a narrow street
  • introduce two people who may have a connection
  • share my empathy with a student who is having a rough day

These aren’t just niceties.  (In fact, Adam Grant’s research also discovered that some of the most generous people aren’t actually ‘nice.’)  These five minute favors are actual expressions of generosity that may increase the quality of my day.  Therefore, increasing the quality of my life.        

What a decade to look forward to.

I’m challenging you to commit to the “five minute favor” routine until the end of 2015.  Once a week, spend five minutes doing a favor for a co-worker, a family member, a friend or a neighbor.  After you’ve given it a good go, consider setting it as your intention for the next year… or maybe even the next decade.  Remember: every day your age increases, your odds of being generous increases. 

Happy growing up,

-lisa

generous odds

 

why gratitude is the only reasonable response to life. #MeditationThoughtMondays

This article was first published on November 5, 2014.  I’m re-posting it to kick off a second year of the very popular Gratitude Meditation Challenge.  Please join me!

“It’s November and Facebook is about to blow up with ‘Thankful Lists.’ These lists say something like, “Today I’m thankful for my house, my family, my job, my car, my bathtub, and my Starbucks Pumpkin Spice latte.”  My list usually includes my space heater and my warm socks.  2013-10-17 16.03.15

I love November (the two best holidays of the year happen this month: my birthday and Thanksgiving!) because all of a sudden, people start thinking about expressing gratitude for all of the conveniences in their lives, and … they smile a little bit more.

But I want to challenge you to remember that gratitude deserves more than thirty seconds of your attention at the end of your yoga class and gratitude deserves more attention than your 30-day Facebook List.  It even deserves more attention than the ten minutes at the Thanksgiving table when your  family members identify one thing they are grateful for before digging into fall roasted veggies.

ipod old 004 (7)In reality, gratitude is the only reasonable response to being alive.

Why? Because if you really think about it, being alive is practically a miracle.

Whether or not you pause to examine it, a  joyful, abundant, and healthy life is pouring itself upon you in each moment.  This is one reason we practice finding and paying attention to the ‘Present Moment’ in yoga.  And it’s the whole reason that yoga makes us happier.  Michael Brown explains this in his book The Presence Process.  He writes:

“What is Present Moment Awareness?

 

It is a State of Being in which we effortlessly integrate the authentic and Divine Presence that we are with each God-Given moment that we are in so that we are able to respond consciously to every experience we are having. 

 

By accomplishing this, our response is always the same: GRATITUDE.” – m. brown 

Meaning: if I’m aware that the moment I’m living is part of a joyful, abundant, and healthy life, then the ONLY reasonable response is gratitude.  That’s all there is to it.

2013-11-07 20.08.31

“Take a moment to the do the most important thing you will do all day: extend your deepest gratitude for this moment and for all of the many blessings that bring you joy in this life.”

My challenge?  It’s the same challenge I give at the end of every yoga class I teach. “Take a moment to the do the most important thing you will do all day: extend your deepest gratitude for this moment and for all of the many blessings which bring you joy in this life.”

What are your blessings?  What brings you joy?  What are you grateful for?

My GRATITUDE MEDITATION CHALLENGE uses my favorite Gratitude Meditation.  You can find it here.  Please join me in 60 seconds of Gratitude Meditation every day for 20 days.  One minute, one thought, one day at a time. New to Meditation?  Check out my tips for beginners:  Learn to Meditate Your Way.

-lisa

gratitude balasana

what really matters? #MeditationThoughtMondays

who you are once you get there

You know what happens every time I set a goal of learning a really hard (read: impressive) yoga pose?  I end up with an injury.  And then, wouldn’t you know: I’m frustrated and in pain, and oh, guess what?  Still can’t do the (really cool and now inconsequential) yoga pose.

After I the frustration and the pain quiets, I (sometimes) hear wisdom whisper: “It’s not where you are in the pose that matters, it’s who you are once you get there.”  And I can practice my poses more gently.  And am actually more grateful for what I can do, instead of being frustrated by what I can’t do.  And, finally, I can let go of judgment.

Did I make that sound easy? ‘Just listen and let go.’  Don’t be fooled. Letting go of judgment and learning to practice gently is NOT easy.

The physical asanas of yoga lead me one step-at-a-time to honing my best personality traits and confronting my most challenging habits. Sometimes I’m running up the steps (cue Top Gun soundtrack) and sometimes I’m falling down them. Hard.

2015-09-26 17.41.52

But in the end, practicing gently is the only way to realize the true goal of the asana. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali writes:  “Perfection in asana is achieved when the effort to perform it becomes effortless.”

That doesn’t mean you stop trying.  In fact, I think it means the opposite.  It means you practice hard on the mat because real-life is hard. When your practice is hard on the mat, you can practice being less reactive, less judgmental, less angry, and less stressed off the mat. Your yoga practice becomes a lesson in learning who you are and who you will be.  And once you learn that it’s not about the pose — it’s about WHO YOU ARE once you are in the pose—then, it becomes effortless.

The yoga learned on the mat only matters if you take what you learn ‘off the mat.’

It’s not about getting your face to your knees in a forward bend—that is only for the sensation. It’s about learning something on the yoga mat that makes you a better parent, a better co-worker, a better friend, a better neighbor. No one comes to yoga to become more judgmental.  That may be the worst form of self-abuse: comparing and judging your body against the person next to you.  Only you know what challenges you today.  Only you know what is gentle today.

“It’s not where you are in the pose that matters, it’s who you are once you get there that matters.”

The Meditation Challenge this week is for a moving Meditation.  It is to be used during your active asana practice.  As you are practicing, use this mantra:

Inhale: “I honor”

Exhale:  “my effort.”

Inhale: “I practice”

Exhale: “with ease.”

And don’t take your eyes off your own mat.  Avoid looking around and making comparisons.  Avoid the tendency to show off.  Instead, show up.  Honor yourself by practicing gently.

Happy Learning (what really matters),

who you are once you get there