what’s your motivation?

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Why do I meditate? Doesn’t it sometimes seem pointless and just another task to fit into my busy day? (yes.) Doesn’t it seem a little self-indulgent when the world is filled with movement and chaos and people who lack the luxury of stillness in a safe space? (yes.) Doesn’t it seem like I’m not really doing it right when my mind is still planning and my body is still fidgety and I’m somehow crammed in a dog bed with my son Russell Clive and my daughter who insists on a bottle right now? (yes.)

But it’s worth it. My motivation to continue my meditation practice is informed by the rich array of physiological benefits proven by measurable research. Meditation can reduce stress, increase longevity by securing the telomeres on chromosome strands, boost cognitive abilities by protecting the density of my brain’s gray matter, decrease emotional instability, promote better digestion and encourage restful sleep.

Here are the motivational factors for maintaining a habitual meditation practice that my yoga and meditation students appreciate:

  • More focus
  • Less stress
  • Emotional healing
  • Healthier body
  • Calm mind

It’s vital to both understand and articulate the driving motivation for beginning a new habit. Only then, when your motivation is both internal and external, felt and seen, personal and shared, will the obstacles to achieving this change in your life slip away, almost effortlessly.

“You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.” -The Upanishads

For me, the most potent motivation for a routine meditation practice is that my body and mind feel balanced.

My brain feels more organized and my thoughts less scattered. My actions are more gentle, my smile wider. My energy levels are in better equilibrium, I eat 4 healthy meals a day and pay attention to where I’m walking. I break fewer dishes. I spill fewer shampoo bottles. I listen to pop music, eat salads, call friends, go to yoga class and hold dance parties in the kitchen. I work really, really hard and am completely focused on my yoga students and my business when it’s time to work hard; then I relax and am completely present with my husband and my daughter. 

When my life is in balance, I appreciate the innate capacity of my body to move toward optimal health and homeostasis, I believe deeply in my body’s Divine right to health and biological equanimity. When I feel balanced, I crave less wine, my eyes are less itchy, I worry less about money and I’m less likely to find everyone else super-annoying. When I feel in balance, I breathe into a sense of ease; like each breath actually matters.

These things are important to notice because how I act may be more important than how I feel; feelings are unreliable and easy to misinterpret. However, my daily actions and habits have an undeniable impact on the quality of my life, my relationships, my business, my service, my health (and my dishes).

So. Here we go.

Why are you meditating? Let’s keep going, together. 


Balance and Ease Meditation

 


Guided Meditation Teachings

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trust your inner knowing meditation.

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“Your willing presence in the world is absolutely precious and deeply needed.

Therefore never think that you must escape from the world in order to be centered and recollected. Instead, find your spaces within the real stuff of life and within the real stuff of yourself.

Quiet and stillness serve our deeper entry into that which is, not the withdrawal from it. See and hear and feel what is around and within you. Acknowledge it and respond as love invites you to.”
-Gerald May, The Awakened Heart


When we sit in stillness, we learn to trust our own wisdom and insight.  This inner wisdom supersedes the demands of anxiety and fear, which allows us to act with greater care for ourselves and for others.

I encourage you to develop a routine meditation practice; chose a routine that integrates seamlessly into your lifestyle. Whether you have time to sit and breathe for 20 minutes or sit and breathe for 2 minutes, the presence, the peace of mind, the equilibrium and the space you will encounter is worth it.

In other words, meditate in a way that brings meaning, wisdom and presence to your life.

Meditate in your bed. Meditate in your Adirondack chair on the back porch. Meditate in your kid’s play room, surrounded by toys. Meditate on your yoga mat. Meditate in your kitchen. Meditate in your home office before you turn on your computer. Meditate in your shower before crawling into bed to put the day to rest. You know what is best for you. Trust that knowing.

In that knowing, you will learn to listen deeply and then acknowledge and respond as love invites you to. As Gerald May reminds us, “Quiet and stillness serve our deeper entry into that which is, not the withdrawal from it. See and hear and feel what is around and within you. Acknowledge it and respond as love invites you to.”

This is my favorite Meditation technique that encourages you to trust your inner knowing.


“Trust Your Inner Knowing” Meditation


Guided Meditation Teachings

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learning to love your essence.

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Meditation taught me that to love someone doesn’t require them to be without flaws or to ignore the fullness of who they are; to love someone is simply to care deeply for their well-being.
When we love, we naturally incline toward nurture, acceptance, grace, forgiveness and actions that make space for wholeness to emerge. Maintaining and caring for well-being becomes the primary action and intention of the relationship.”

The people I love most in the world are perfection.

They always make mistakes and they apologize for their mistakes. They laugh loudly and forget appointments and show up late and smile sheepishly and snap at me when they are tired or hungry or bug-eyed overwhelmed. They are tall and they are short; they are a little overweight and a little underweight. They are sometimes frazzled and other times they are put together and impeccably dressed.

They sometimes call me at weird times of the day to rant their fears and unintelligible misunderstandings and they sometimes hug me deeply and with meaning at the exact moment when I feel unmoored and disconnected. They are unhealed and they are healing; they are working through profound emotional trauma and they are also ministers in their own right, gracing me and their families with wisdom and acceptance.

They are perfect and they are VERY VERY MESSY HUMAN BEINGS… and, because of all this messiness, I care deeply for their well-being.

Through years of emotional discernment and chasing joy and looking deeply for wonder and listening deeply through meditation, I’ve learned that even I belong in this category of humans. The category being: people who are messy and perfect and deserve to be loved into wholeness and loved at their essence.

Meditation taught me that to love someone doesn’t require them to be without flaws or to ignore the fullness of who they are; to love someone is simply to care deeply for their well-being.

When we love, we naturally incline toward nurture, acceptance, grace, forgiveness and actions that make space for wholeness to emerge. Maintaining and caring for well-being becomes the primary action and intention of the relationship.

I’ve witnessed powerful and profound effects within the hearts and lives of my meditation students when they use their meditation time to deliberately nurture their well-being. One student told me that in learning to meditate she uncovered her belief that she didn’t deserve health and well-being. Her meditation practice then became a deliberate time of remembering how to care for herself, how to remind herself that she was perfectly imperfect and worthy of love.

Here is the meditation I gave her; I hope it helps you remember which category of humans you belong to: the one that is perfect, in essence.

Learning to Love Your Essence Meditation:

Happy loving,

-lisa

 

 

re-set your day through meditation.

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Did I tell you about our new washing machine? A month after we moved in to our new house, our washing machine stopped draining. It would get halfway through a cycle, flash the dreaded F2 error code and act like an almighty flood was coming.  My Ironman figured out a way to “fix” it through a complicated procedure of button pushing with very specific intermittent waiting times.

It was not a fix. I mean, I had to truck myself down those basement stairs every 4.5 to 6.7 minutes to re-set/drain/re-start that washing machine. 

Meditation, too, is like a re-set button during my day. And some days, I have to hit it a few times before I get my mood fixed. 

But every time I stop, take a deep breath, consciously dwell with my inhale and my exhale, I reaffirm a healthy relationship with my body, my mind, my spirit.

When I do this, I draw my scattered mind back to the present moment and am able to make wise, deliberate choices. I’m kinder and more empathetic. When I’m able to do this, I feel a little more fresh, more focused, more ready for the day.


When I teach meditation, I teach that there are five simple steps to organizing a formal meditation practice.

  1. Establish a posture that leads to a feeling of stillness. Move around a little bit. No one expects you to be perfectly statue-still the first time you hit the re-set button.
  2. Take a few deep, diaphragmatic inhales and exhales. Clear out distracting thoughts.
  3.  Systematically relax your body. Release a little physical tension. You know how good it feels to relax, you may not know how much tension you are unconsciously holding on to.
  4. Focus on the natural breath entering and exiting your body. Notice everything about the rhythm and feel of the breath. Give yourself the job of being in one place, at one time, appreciating your breath.
  5. Refine your mental focus by repeating a phrase silently. Give your thinking mind something positive to think about it. A mantra works wonders.

 

To get you started with this “re-set,” here’s a few of my favorite meditation practices:

Present Moment, Wonderful Moment

Beginning Breath Meditation

 


Guided Meditation Teachings

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a re-think of an hour: an invitation into presence.

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When we retell the stories of ideal, transcendent, meaningful moments in life– those moments when we felt alive, connected, whole and present with joy– we often say that we lost track of time.

We spent an entire weekend laughing and sunbathing with our girlfriends on the dock, never once checking our watches. Our two mile hike under budding trees turned into two hours on the trail and a languid picnic in the grass, not noticing the day was ending until the sun set. We got lost wandering around the art museum and stayed past closing. We went to lunch with a dear friend and talked for hours.

Our memory reminds us that in times of great presence, we were immersed in an unfolding of time that was outside linear constraints.

As I reflect on the disruption of my daily routine as a result of the compassionate community response to the COVID-19 crisis in which many of us are staying at home, I think about my relationship to time.

(In my household, the two activities that transcended time during the Coronavirus shelter-at-home mandate were eating leaves on the back porch and watching music videos on YouTube. Potentially less-than-ideal Parenting Choices, but … no whining for the win.)

Actual hours of my day have been handed back to me. And yet I am often restless and disconnected– owl-eye watching the clock until my IronMan takes over baby duty and I can go accomplish something.

The stay-at-home mandate reveals a conditioning that bases the worth of one hour on its accomplishment and production. And while that conditioning is comfortable and often lucrative, I’m discovering that a less restrained interpretation of an hour reveals greater depth… and great deal less anxiety.

Previously, the question asked of time was this: how much can I get done in this hour?

This pandemic experience, for many of us who are sheltering-at-home, has changed that question to: how can I experience this hour in presence?

Yes, many of the structures and boundaries that organized our time have been altered and removed. This restructuring is disorienting and sometimes frustrating and sometimes boring and sometimes excruciating.

And also, this restructuring is an invitation to see time differently. 

Because, in times of great connection and deepest joy, time unfolds in a cyclical, silky, unhurried manner.

There’s nowhere to be but right here, allowing the hour to recline and recede, appreciated not for its productivity, but for its presence.

re think of time picture

Happy re-thinking,

-lisa


Enjoy these teachings that help re-think time and engage in presence.


Guided Meditation: Open to Timelessness

Mindfulness Meditation: Core Breathing Technique


Guided Meditation Teachings

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much love and gratitude-

we must choose stillness.

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Collectively, we don’t know the answers yet, which means that individually, we must be part of the answers.

But first, we must learn to listen very carefully to the fear that tells us we are alone and we should be afraid and we will not make it through this tumult strong enough to find a new normal. We must hear this, so we can choose to disregard it.

We must calm this overactive, anxious, panicked voice by saying, “I hear you fear, but you are not Truth; you are not the way of Light and depth and love. I choose connection and kindness and quiet. I choose to stay grounded in what I know is Life Giving and what brings me closer to Wholeness.”

We choose this by sitting with our fear and our hope and our panic and the fullness of what is, until we feel grounded in stillness. We choose this stillness because this stillness is the place where inspiration and hope and answers emerge.

According to the yoga tradition, we develop inner stillness through Meditation, Breath and Community.

Learn the Guided Meditation Technique called Body Scan to ground into the present moment when you most need it.

Body Scan Guided Meditation

Learn the Yoga Breathing Teaching called Extended Exhale to ground into stillness when you most need it.

Extended Exhale Breathing: Vishama Vritti Pranayama

Learn more and practice additional Yoga Breathing Techniques Here:  The Power of Pranayama

 


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Pranayama Guided Teachings

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contentment amidst COVID-19.

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Feeling contentment during this time of global unease, disease and angst that is the COVID-19 disaster of 2020 is patently ludicrous.

To me, feeling contentment happens when I’m resting in a lawn chair watching aspens glitter, drinking coffee after a long trail hike. Or hunkering down on the couch with RussellClive, a chai and Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, spending the afternoon going nowhere.

In these scenarios, of course, I have nothing to worry about. No pressing deadlines, no new website platforms to learn in order to keep my business afloat because my entire city is locked in their homes, terrified to touch anything or anyone. No parents or grandparents who could get sick. No friends who have suddenly lost their source of income just weeks before having their second baby. No cell phone to continually check the unnerving minute-by-minute alteration of the Rules of Coronavirus. In these contentment daydreams, I am a veritable fortress of ease.

This is not happening so far in 2020. I’m not feeling contentment. I’m feeling sometimes like the roof is falling in and other times like this whole thing is an inside joke that I’m smiling frantically along to, not unlike my mentor Michael Scott.

In Yoga Philosophy, inner contentment is one of the five core personal practices, called niyamas. You can read more about core Yoga Philosophy on my page key yoga learnings.

The Yoga Sutra written about contentment (santosha) is translated as, “From contentment one gains supreme happiness.” (II.41)

Which, at the moment, sounds naive and opaque and wildly unhelpful. But as a yogi and spiritual seeker, my responsibility is to pause and discern: where is there wisdom in this?

Here is the wisdom:

If my primary aim is to feel contentment, I’m doomed. There will always be something newer, shinier, bigger and better promising “supreme happiness!” Feelings are fleeting unreliable (you nailed it with Inside Out, Pixar), and suffering is an inevitable part of the human experience.

However, if my primary aim is to be contentment, secure in my worth, my deepest connection to Source, my commitment to my vision of a healed world and to my values of compassion and graciousness and authenticity…. no matter what… I might have a chance.

Contentment cannot be based on what I own or my hierarchy on the corporate restructuring chart or what plaques I hang on the wall or how many people look up to me or how relevant I am on social media. The minute I start attaching my worth, my identity, my sense of fulfillment and sense of self to any external situation, it can be taken away. Suffering will surely follow.

Contentment has to be based on who I am and how I forge a refuge of reverence for the incredible gift that is my next breath.

Contentment isn’t a feeling. Contentment is a Knowing. It’s a deep inner knowing that, even in the midst of suffering, I’ve chosen to be grateful that I am alive in this present moment. And to act with compassion in this present moment. And to speak with integrity and clarity, and counsel wisely and care deeply and choose authentically in this present moment.

People flow in and out of our lives, possessions come and go, even opinions and ideals change over time. In other words, the outer world is in constant flux; yoga says that the only conceivable way to feel anchored in contentment is to remember that our depth, meaning and deepest Self orbits not around these changing circumstances (prakriti) but is anchored to the permanent light of awareness and Creative Source that sustains all living things. That, readers, is santosha. 

I offer you this Santosha Guided Meditation as a practice of reverence and refuge. Please return to it often and share it with loved ones.

Santosha Guided Meditation


Guided Meditation Teachings

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learn more about santosha:

the contents of my Soul: santosha

is your cup too big?

every day a gift: santosha

not needing more: santosha

access additional Guided Meditations for Stress Relief:

guided meditations

and learn about the power of breathing techniques to mitigate stress:

yoga breathing techniques and pranayama exercises


Guided Meditation Teachings

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what we will say when this is over:

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What we will say when this is over:

“We read books and we listened to stories and we listened to each other.
We rested and we waited and the ground turned green and the daylillies bloomed secretly overnight.

We looked lovingly into each other‘s eyes and saw each other in stillness for the first time in many weeks or many years.

We took walks together as families and we cuddled our pets as we reassured those that we love that everything would be ok.

We took a look at what we loved, and who we loved and how we supported each other. We thought about the impact of our purchases, our spending, our investments, our time.

We consciously decided how to support businesses and people that we cared about.

We took a hard look at what we valued and how we lived by these values. We made decisions to be more mindful with our time in the future. And move a little slower and appreciate a little more.

We valued our health.

We sat and we watched the rain fall and we ate nourishing meals and drank copious amounts of coffee.

We reached out to each other and we said, how can I help? And we meant it.
We were kind and gracious. When an appointment was cancelled or an event was postponed we said, I understand; stay safe and stay well.

We paid attention to what we were buying, where we were buying it, how we were using it, and what we could do without. We chose to share instead of to hoard.

We said thank you. We meant it.

We said, we are in this together.”


Readers and Seekers:
We are in this together.  Listen to this Podcast Interview with Lisa about the benefits of Yoga as a Spiritual Practice. Take a moment to re-set and ground yourself. Now is the time to practice your yoga.
LAD PODCAST PIC HOLY GROUNDS sq

PROJECT ZION PODCAST

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