saucha: the one-minute rule of tidiness

I truly cannot work if my bed is not made. It the first thing I do when I come home from teaching and prepare to sit down at my computer. My ‘office’ is in my bedroom, which is great for Russell Clive because he can snuggle on my pillow and watch me type from across the room. But it’s also not great, because if my bed isn’t made, my work space feels messy, untidy and overwhelming.

I recently read Gretchen Rubin’The Happiness Project; I highly recommend it. In her experiment to generate more happiness in her life, Rubin adopted the “one-minute rule.” Which means: if it takes one minute or less to do it– do it now. File the paper, put the plate in the dishwasher, make the bed, wipe up the salt your snow boots tracked in. She found that this “one-minute rule” significantly decreased clutter, increased her sense of ease and helped her focus when it was time to work. I adopted this “one-minute rule” in January and found that it truly helped me appreciate and practice saucha (cleanliness and self-care), which is the first niyama (personal consideration) of the Yoga Philosophy.

I also adopted her “ten-minute tidy rule” (that’s the cutest name for cleaning ever invented). I often experience a moment of anxiety when I come home and my house is cluttered– instead of actually working during the workday, I feel like I’m just walking around my house putting things away. The “ten-minute tidy rule” means I take ten minutes to put the house to bed before I go to bed myself. I’m not up at midnight deep cleaning, I’m just turning off Netflix ten minutes earlier each night to tidy up my living space and practice saucha as a way of caring for myself and my belongings with greater tenderness.

Saucha asks us to look at all our little “one-minute” actions throughout the day and ask: is this an action of self-care? Does it contribute to my health and happiness?

Cleanliness is a perfect entry point to this: do you feel happier and healthier when your home is dirty and cluttered? Or do you feel happier and healthier when your home is tidy, clean and fresh? What contributes to a greater sense of ease?

This month as we study saucha, ask yourself: “How can I make this one-minute action an action of self-care?” And whatever you are doing in that one minute– showering, trimming your fingernails, cleaning the oven, organizing papers, wiping snow and sleet off dogpaws, eating a snack or rolling up your yoga mat– do it with greater tenderness and self-care.

Happy One Minute,

-lisa

“When the body is cleansed, the mind purified and the senses controlled, joyful awareness needed to realize the inner self, also comes.” -Yoga Sutras

experience a sense of ease. #MeditationThoughtMondays

sense of ease (schiffman)

“As you immerse yourself in stillness… you will experience an unexpected and immensely satisfying sense of contentment and ease.”  e. schiffmann, “Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness”

I’m not a very ‘still’ person.  Many days, I look back over the events of the day and remember that the only time when I sat ‘still’ was when I was eating lunch (on my couch, cuddled up next to my Russell Clive)… and this doesn’t even count because this time was spent stuffing my face with vegetables like the #NutritionNerd that I am.  (Did you make my favorite roasted veggie salad yet?).  I sit in the car a lot– that comes with the territory of teaching yoga at several studios and having a home office– but even in the car I’m constantly in motion. Needless to say, Sitting Still is profoundly healing, but often profoundly elusive.

Sitting still doesn’t happen in our lives because

a) we are busy.

b) we are tired. (we fall asleep every time we try)

c) it’s hard.

The stillness-phobic among us are terrified to even try meditation because ‘it’s hard to be still and I’m not good at it.’  (Join the club.)

Well, it is hard.  But because sitting still, being still, and stilling the Mind are difficult feats to achieve, many meditation techniques have been developed to teach us how.  One technique I’d like to share with you is profoundly helpful for me.  (If you are brand new to Meditation, you’ll also want to read these posts:  5 benefits of Meditation  and learn to meditate. your way.)

It’s called “Counting Backward.”  In this meditation technique, breathing is the primary focus.  We always begin with the connection to the breath, because it is our connection to the Present Moment and to the Spirit within.  The technique will help you move into stillness.  Erich Shiffmann, leading yoga teacher and author, writes: “Sitting absolutely still –practicing brief physical immobility– can teach you how to be in the conflict-free, higher-energy, ‘stillness’ state for more of your daily life.”

Steps to “Counting Backward” Meditation:

1.  Sit very comfortably with your back straight.  If you can’t sit on the floor with your back straight, then sit against a wall or on a chair.

2.  Close your eyes.

3. Breath normally, gently, fully.  Experience the room you are in and experience your body for a moment.

4.  Begin to count your breathing, mentally, silently.  Begin with 50 on an exhale.  49 on an inhale.  48 on an exhale.  47 on an inhale.

5.  Avoid elongating or changing your breath.  You are learning to NOT be in control.  Let the breath be very gentle, full, and soft.

6.  When you lose your count, come back to 50.  Continue counting every breath silently backward until the count of 1.

7.  When you reach zero, stop counting, but stay aware of the natural intake of breath.  Sit for a few more moments and enjoy the ease.

8.  Immerse yourself in the stillness.  End the exercise any time you feel ready.  Extend your deepest gratitude for this moment and for all of the many blessings which bring you joy in this life.

“As you immerse yourself in stillness… you will experience an unexpected and immensely satisfying sense of contentment and ease.”  e. schiffmann, “Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness”

One day, you won’t need the tool of counting backwards… maybe you can just slip into stillness.  I first tried this technique two years ago and it is still one of my favorite ways to begin a meditation moment; I use it often.  If I only have a few moments, then I begin counting backward from 10.  Give it a good try; if you find it helpful, then keep trying it.  If you find it unhelpful or distracting, try something else.  Remember, you are your own best teacher!

If you would like to practice this technique with me, you may take a Meditation Class with me Sundays at 11:00 am at Maya Yoga KC and you may sign up for my 3 Week Workshop: Introduction to Meditation at Westport Yoga KC Sundays April 12, April 19, and April 26, 2015.  See my teaching schedule and events page for full details.

ASH intro to Meditation April 2015

Happy Stillness,  Much love,

-lisa

learn to meditate. your way.

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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.

Start Here:


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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