Couldn’t have said it better myself. Happy Breathing.
Practice this Gratitude Meditation to uncover a deeper present moment awareness. Because the only reasonable response to being alive is Gratitude.
Read each sentence quietly, mindfully. Take a deep breath after you read it. Pause and allow yourself to be filled with the essence of the sentiment.
I live in gratitude.
Every day that I awaken and breathe, I am grateful.
Every day that I think a new thought and feel my heart beating, I am grateful.
Every day that I am healthy and whole, I am grateful.
Every day that a creative idea becomes solid reality, I am grateful.
Every day that I discover even the smallest reminder of beauty, I am grateful.
Every day that I am given insight or uncover deep wisdom, I am grateful.
Every day that I exercise compassion, understanding and patience, I am grateful.
Every day that I engage with another living creature in community and empathy, I am grateful.
Every day that I am hugged, kissed, and loved, I am grateful.
Every day that I laugh out loud, I am grateful.
Every day that my family is healthy and safe, I am grateful.
Every day that my friends do well in the world, I am grateful.
Every day that love is evident in my life, I am grateful.
Every day that I act from a place of frustration, I am grateful because these moments offer me opportunities to learn mindfulness.
Every day that challenges my resiliency and adaptability, I am grateful.
Every day that I am humbled by a mistake, I am grateful.
Every day that I am faced with seemingly unbearable odds, I am grateful that my spirit and my fortitude are strengthened by these things.
Every day that I try, I am grateful.
Every day that I try AGAIN, I am grateful.
Every day that I have some time to myself for quiet and reflection, I am grateful.
For every day that is NEW, I am grateful.
For every blessing, surprise, breath, song, word, hope, reason, and heart, I am grateful.
For this moment and for so many more, I give thanks, with a grateful heart.
2 lessons yoga has taught me.
A few months ago, my dear friend and yoga student Stina Hergott blasted a post on her Pink Moon KC Blog called “10 lessons My Bike Has Taught Me.” It got me thinking. And thinking. And thinking: could I narrow my list of ‘lessons that yoga has taught me’ to a list of 10?
Well. As it turns out, I can synthesize my list to two.
1. There is only today. Yoga is not a hobby or an activity. Yoga is a practice. Which means every time I practice yoga, it’s a practice of learning to be actively engaged in the present moment. The present moment may be super enjoyable. It may be slightly uncomfortable. It is the only moment I have.
Yoga is a meditation on the Spirit that is found within the breath. I can’t breathe into the future and I can’t breathe in the past. Which means I shouldn’t let my mind live in the future and I shouldn’t let my mind live in the past. Which means: there is now. And there is today. And if I desire patience, I practice that today. And if I desire compassion, I practice that today. And if I desire to be filled with God-light, to spread forgiveness, to find moments of hidden healing joy everywhere I look, I practice today. When my shoulder was injured last fall, my daily Ashtanga practice was often excruciating. (As was opening my car door, taking my Russell for a walk, and holding my coffee mug…ugh, much better now, thank you.) So I challenged myself to ask this question when I was practicing: “What if this were my last opportunity to take Downward Facing Dog Pose? If that were the case, how would I want it to feel? How would I want to enjoy it?” Turns out: I would want to SAVOR it. Yoga taught me that there is only today. And today is to be savored.
2. There is always tomorrow. I like to accomplish things. (Some might call me an over-achiever, yes, you, Mimi.) Yoga taught me that it’s ok not to be perfect today. I can attempt a pose (such as Royal Pigeon, which was my New Year’s Resolution in 2008 and I still can’t do!) and not freak out that I can’t do it. I can’t take the full expression of this pose, YET. Yet being the key word here, because there is always tomorrow. I can get back on my mat tomorrow, even if I am sore, or tired, or cranky and: I can try again. My all-time favorite Yoga Inspiration comes from Rolf Gates’ book Meditations from the Mat and it says this:
“We show up, we live passionately, we burn brightly in the moment, and when the moment is over, when our work is done, we step back and let go.”
Yoga taught me that life doesn’t require perfection, it simply requires me to savor the present moment and do my personal best… then let go of the results. This lesson, more than anything else I’ve learned from practicing and teaching yoga, has had the greatest impact on my experience with the world and my often-anxious mind. It has offered me peace of mind, it has calmed my anxiety, and it has truly healed my body and my heart.
There is only today. There is always tomorrow.
What lessons has your yoga practice taught you? Please, share with me. I would love to hear your answer.
What does it mean to travel lightly?
One backpack. One. One backpack for 2+ weeks in Peru, where I will be on the sun-scorched beach and in the snow-covered peaks of the Andes, sprawling in the humid rainforest in an open air cabin, huddling in tents and sleeping in un-air-conditioned hostels…. an one is all I get. How do I pack for that?! It doesn’t make sense to pack a bikini and my winter gloves, but somehow I need to be prepared for both extremes. What do I pack? What do I leave behind? What will I take with me, only to realize after 36+ hours of cars, planes and buses, that I can’t carry the weight of it?
I just read the novel Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, about her trek up the Pacific Coast Trail from the Mojave Desert to the Bridge of the Gods in Washington State. She named her hiking backpack Monster. She quickly realized she could not walk 19 miles a day in the mountains under its weight, and spent the first few weeks of her journey ditching items that weren’t 100% necessary for survival. Near the end of her journey, Cheryl realized what else she carried with her – unresolved grief over the passing of her mother – doubled the weight she carried with every step. When she let that go, her traveling became lighter.
I found this picture featuring a quote from Yogi Bajan a few months ago, and it has consumed my thoughts since then. It says: “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.” (Yes, English Grammar Nerds will notice that it should say: ‘travel lightly’ and ‘live lightly’ but I actually really like the play-on-words that results from mis-using the word ‘light’ as an adverb. ‘Live Light’ and ‘Live Lightly…’ they are both excellent pieces of advice.)
Anyway, back to packing my bag for the trip of a lifetime: it’s excruciating. I want to be prepared for EVERYTHING. I keep asking questions like: but what if I NEED a cute top and skinny jeans because we stumble across a nice restaurant? But what if I NEED my hair straightener and blow dryer (never mind that we don’t have electricity in the Amazon rainforest) and what if I NEED extra supplies in my first aid kit, 6 pairs of gloves, 4 novels, 2 extra towels and 1 yoga mat? I mean, I need to be prepared for anything, right? Otherwise, won’t I feel anxious? Unprepared? Stupid for not packing the ‘right’ gear for this epic adventure in Peru? I DON’T KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN!! How do I prepare for THAT?? Reality Check: We NEVER know exactly what will happen in our future. That’s the thing about life and creation—it is constantly in motion, and it is constantly changing. We get one day…. We may get one million days.
Then I see this again:
Hmm…my job is not to be consumed with collecting all the items that will protect me from uncertainty. This only adds to my anxiety. My job is EVERY DAY, to “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.”
Boy, that sure takes the pressure off. I don’t have to be prepared for everything, I just have to be prepared to Live Light. And travel lightly on this Earth, leaving only soft imprints (which means, I guess… not carrying around a 40lb backpack, complaining with every step. But yes, I will be packing my first aid kit.)
Stay tuned for Peru updates and pictures; my Ironman and I are super excited for our adventure-vacation. (For those of you who are concerned, Russell Clive will be staying with his grandparents.)
god is the breath.
God says…“Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat. My shoulder is against yours. You will not find me in the stupas, not in the Indian shrine rooms, nor in synagogues, not in cathedrals: not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables. When you really look for me, you will see me instantly—you will find me in the tiniest house of time. … Tell me, what is God? He is the breath inside the breath.” – Kabir
Most often, students who are new to yoga and meditation are told to simply, “sit there and still your thoughts.”
When I first learned to meditate, my thoughts could only stay still for about 0.03 seconds. I’m a list-maker, a future-organizer, a ruminator, a worrier and a dreamer. Even if my body was still, my mind was anything but.
In my experience, my thoughts don’t completely cease, but they do slow down a little bit after a few moments of meditation. I visualize my neural pathways as cars speeding across interstate overpasses and then very gradually slowing down … consciously choosing a safer, more sustainable, less hurried pace. Still going somewhere, but taking a slower pace with time to enjoy the scenery.
I’ve learned that meditating is an integral part of a holistic yoga practice. The asanas (postures) are performed in order prepare the body for seated meditation. But here’s thing: you don’t just sit there.
Seated meditation is an active process of learning to become attuned to your thoughts with skillful attention. It is the skill of consciously slowing down your thought processes so that you can live a sustainable life and take time to enjoy the scenery along the way.
Learning to meditate doesn’t have to be daunting.
Focus on Your Breath.
Focusing on your breath reaffirms your mind-body connection. Typically, your mind and your body are in two different locations: your body is one place and your mind is elsewhere, trapped in rumination of the past or worries about the future. Your breath is the bridge between a focused, present, mind-body connection.
This 3-part breathing meditation works wonders for stress relief.
Complete Breath Exercise
Enjoy a Relaxing Visualization Practice.
Visualization works wonders. One of my favorite techniques is a Systematic Relaxation Exercise from Dr. Rolf Sovik of the Himalayan Institute called “61 Points of Light.” Most Guided Meditation experiences share the primary aim of total relaxation, so go ahead and lay down in a comfortable place, snuggle in and enjoy 10 stress-free minutes.
61 Points of Light
Listen to a Guided Meditation.
Don’t feel like you can make your thoughts “be still-er” on your own volition? Utilize a guided meditation audio file that you can take with you, wherever you are. Listen and remember that you are here, and this is now.
“I am here, this is now” Meditation
Head to this page on my website for more resources: Guided Meditation
Just Do it.
Don’t worry about doing it correctly or incorrectly. Start by sitting still for 60 seconds. Appreciate your breath for one minute. Remember that meditation is YOUR practice.
You will find a way to meditate that works well for you and you will find a way that doesn’t work well for you. If you are learning to sit in stillness, you are learning to trust your own wisdom. Listen to your own insight, and commit to a daily stillness practice. It will change your life.
“Trust Your Inner Knowing” Meditation
Guided Meditation Teachings
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Sharing this meditation from my friend and spiritual guide, Katie Harmon-McLaughlin.
Happy Earth Day (which should be EVERY day).
“Meeting God is not a momentary ‘spiritual’ affair; rather, God is the ether, the reality, the body, the garden in which we live. God is never absent; God is reality (being). Everything that has being derives it from God (we are born and reborn by God). The entire cosmos is born of God, as is each and every creature. We depend on this source of life and its renewal absolutely. We could not live a moment without the gifts of God’s body- air, food, water, and other creatures. This realization is an overwhelming experience of God’s transcendence; it calls forth awe and immense gratitude. Yet, at the same time, as Augustine puts it, God is closer to us than we are to ourselves. Where can we go where God is not, since God fills heaven and earth?” -Sallie McFague, A New Climate for Theology
Take a few moments to breathe deeply and know that with each breath you are inhaling and exhaling divine love; the unifying, life-giving spirit in all of creation.
Consider how this matters for you now.
Consider your connectedness with all other life.
Consider all that you have done so far today; all that you have eaten, all that you have touched. Pay attention to the fabric of the clothing you wear and think about where it came from. Pay attention to the place where you sit and the materials that surround you. All of these came from the earth.
The gifts of God’s body, the earth, are sustaining your daily existence. Pause in gratitude.
Some of the things you touch and wear and use today have caused earth destruction. Pray for forgiveness for the ways we sometimes live unaware as though we are disconnected. Pray for greater awareness and compassion in the days ahead.
Become aware of the surrounding air that embraces every part of you, touching your fingertips, resting on your shoulders and head. Know that embracing-stillness as God, holding you in each moment. Know that there is not a place you can go in this world where you will not be in this loving embrace.
There is no distance between you and God.
There is no distance between you and love.
There is no distance between you and the rest of creation because you are part of sacred creation and are daily sustained by this planet.
How will you live this holy connection today?
for more from Katie, visit the Community of Christ Spiritual Formation Center Facebook page.