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5 Tips To Help You Avoid Holiday Stress

kelleysandsanta“The greatest gift you can give someone is your presence.”  ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

I like to think that the greatest gift you can give to anyone this holiday season is to get your sh!% together.  =)

The Holidays are a time of joy, love, family, friends… and stress.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Holiday season.  Nothing makes me happier than seeing the look on my kids face when they’re opening their gifts on Christmas morning.  But… between the physical demands of always being on the go – running from one party to another – and the extra emotional energy needed to catch up with family and friends… not to mention socializing with colleagues at company parties, the Holidays can be VERY stressful.  Add in an ample supply of cookies, candy canes, caffeine, and some extra Nog, you’re bound to get some heightened physical and emotional reactions to your stress.

In order to slow things down so we can really enjoy the Holiday season this year we need to start planning NOW.  Here are five tips that will help you manage your stress levels over the Holiday season.

Continue reading “5 Tips To Help You Avoid Holiday Stress”

Active Listening

Active listening is the essence of meditation. It’s also the only thing that really matters in relationships.

Wait, I'm multitasking on my Princess Phone!
Wait, I’m multitasking on my Princess Phone!

As we explore our relationships, what matters most is staying present, being empathetic, knowing how to pay attention and to listen, holding space for difficult emotions, and regulating our emotions. All of these are directly trained through meditation practice.

If you’ve ever been with someone who is not listening to you, not really there with you, isn’t empathetic, you sense it, and you don’t feel as though you’re being heard. What is fundamental to a relationship is being seen, feeling heard, and understood. So the first thing meditation does is train us how to actually be present. How to focus our attention on this moment as we connect with that other person.

Even as a meditation teacher it is challenging for me to practice what I preach.  That’s exactly WHY I practice. Everyone’s mind wanders… a lot. Mindfulness helps me build up these critical skills (through those mental pushups) that positively influence my relationships.

I hope this helps!
– Andy

Meditation For People Who Don’t Get It But Really Need It

chalene-show

New York Times Best Selling Author, Celebrity Fitness trainer  Chalene Johnson recently asked me to be a guest on her podcast show!  I’d love for you to take a listen below and let me know your thoughts…

The Chalene Show – Podcasts – Meditation For People Who Dont Get It But Really Need It

Today is the day that I start my journey towards understanding if meditation has a place in my daily routine.  I’m speaking Andrew Kelley, a.k.a. “The Boston Buddha”.  Andy answers all of my rapidly-paced questions about meditation: Do I have to close my eyes? Do I have to sit with my legs crossed? Where should I meditate and for how long? And, most importantly, WHY should I meditate?

Fact: A lot of very successful people meditate. Another fact: I don’t. However, it seems like everywhere I turn, another super successful person is mentioning how important meditation is to them  on a daily basis. I already have a process that I go through every morning: plan my day, make my bed, stop and take a moment of gratitude, pray, exercise –  is there even room for meditation?

Some common questions about meditation:

Do I have to close my eyes?

Andy says, “No,” but he does recommend that as you’re starting, you should block out as many distractions as possible – and closing your eyes helps.

Do I have to sit with my legs crossed?

Nope. Andy says the idea is to be comfortable and that early practitioners of meditation didn’t have comfy couches like we do.

Why should I meditate?

People who practice and endorse meditation say that it helps them re-focus their mind and also provides them with a sense of calm. Andy says he started meditating because he was having a hard time sleeping and he was pleasantly surprised that it only took one week for his sleeping habits to improve.

When should I meditate?

There is no “right’ time, but you might have to make meditating a priority in your schedule. Many people meditate in the morning because there is nothing else scheduled at that time – it’s quiet and there are no pressing demands on their time. You’ll need to find the time that works best for yourself.

Lastly, JOIN ME ON MY 30-DAY CHALLENGE THROUGH MEDITATION!

Visit THIS Facebook post and tell us how you’re doing!

CONNECT WITH CHALENE:

Chalene on Facebook: www.facebook.com/chalene

Chalene on Instagram: www.instagram.com/chalenejohnson

Chalene on Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/chalenejohnson

Chalene on Twitter: www.twitter.com/chalenejohnson

Chalene on Youtube: www.youtube.com/chalenejohnson

Some of Chalene’s Instagram Accounts:

www.instagram.com/instagramimpact

www.instagram.com/pushmedaily

www.instagram.com/homeworkouts_4u

www.instagram.com/chalenefashion

Want more great tips and resources on improving balance, energy, organization, health fitness, relationships, focus, faith and happiness? Each episode of my podcast, The Chalene Show is designed to give you strategies and simple steps you can implement today to become a better, more balanced, happier version of yourself. LISTEN NOW!

Meet The Buddha From Boston

Andy with his spiritual guru and wife Catharine
Andy with his spiritual guru and wife Catharine

Andy recently sat down with About Meditation‘s Morgan Dix to talk about mindfulness and meditation.  In this interview, we learn about the events that led to Andy becoming the Boston Buddha, and we explore his approach to teaching meditation in corporations and schools.

I invited Andy to the show because he’s passionate about helping people change their mental habits through meditation to achieve deeper happiness and fulfillment. He’s full of practical wisdom and teaching tips that will help you hone your own meditation practice.

In this interview, the Boston Buddha and I explore:

  • How Andy became a meditation teacher
  • The benefits of different styles of meditation
  • Why he does mantra-based meditation in the morning and mindfulness-based meditation in the afternoon
  • How to strengthen the neural networks associated with attention
  • How to change the stories we tell ourselves
  • Why it’s important to pick one practice technique and stick with it
  • How he came to be called the Boston Buddha
  • Why he says that everyone is the Boston Buddha
  • How he teaches meditation to students from 8-18 years old
  • His unique 5-minute email meditation exercise for executives
  • Andy’s main advice for new meditators

Enjoy!

About Morgan Dix

Morgan Dix is a blogger who enjoys exploring the intersection of contemplative fitness and culture. He is a co-founder of About Meditation and contributes regular articles and guided meditations.

Roadblocks

roadblock

Well, those two weeks went by fast, huh?  I’m so glad you’ve made the decision to stick with us for the “Commit To Sit 2015 Meditation Challenge”. Knowing what meditation has meant to me, I’m really excited in anticipation of how this experience will transform your life over the next year.

Let’s face it, sometimes opening up to one’s experience is difficult, because the experience may not be what we wish it could be – but when we do… when we take just 10 minutes a day during the work week- you start to see that you’re building up these internal resources that help you cope with stress a lot better. It’s not always easy so stay positive over these next few weeks and trust me!

Homework for this weekend:

– Wherever you are – spend at least five minutes outside with nature. Whether we know it or not, we all have meditative experiences throughout the day… when we’re out walking the dog, staring off into the ocean, playing with our kids, looking up at the stars, listening to the sounds in our environment, and breathing in the fresh air. We can all be present with our experience – the hard part is learning to sustain it for more than just a couple of breaths outside without picking up our phones – and that is what we’re starting to cultivate in class.

– S.B.L.S. (Stop. Breathe. Listen. Smile.) Stop, take a breath and get in the habit of asking yourself: “How do I feel? What do I need right now?”

I think the question that was asked most this week was: How do I REALLY know that I’m doing it right?

1. You’re sitting for five minutes – twice a day. (you’re doing it right)

2. You have thoughts, feelings, or get distracted by external noises. (you’re doing it right)

3. You fall asleep. (you’re doing it right – especially in that first month)

4. You are aware that you you’re focusing on the physical sensation of the breath in your body. (you’re doing it right)

Remember, it’s totally normal for your mind to wander. There’s no need to criticize yourself when you notice that your mind has wandered. The point is not to suppress thoughts or emotions but rather to have open spacious awareness with it.

THE BEST WAY TO REALLY TELL IF YOU’RE DOING IT RIGHT is AFTER you open your eyes. Is your day easier? Are you taking things a little lighter – less serious? One of my teachers, Sharon Salzberg likes to remind us, “When it comes to meditating, it helps to have a sense of humor.”

Have a great weekend!

-Andy

Continue reading “Roadblocks”

4 Minute Mood Shift

BuddhaBreak – Don’t have time to do a full 30 minute body scan meditation? That’s OK, we’ve got you covered! Try my “4 Minute Mood Shift” throughout the day. I find that this mini meditation really helps me dislodge stress and tension and snaps me out of my negative moods.

MINUTE 1: Focus on any physical stress and tension in the body.
MINUTE 2: Focus on what your feelings and thoughts.
MINUTE 3: Bring your attention in and focus on the breath.
MINUTE 4: See if you can expand your awareness around the breath to include your whole body sitting there breathing – from your head to your feet.

I hope this helps!

How to Sit

The most common questions I get when I introduce meditation to anyone is, “does it matter how I sit?” and  “do I need to sit cross-legged like a pretzel on the floor to meditate?”. howtosit

My response is always the same – the key is to be comfortable. If you’re not comfortable, it may be easier for you to give up meditating altogether.

Unless we’re doing a body scan or chakra toning, it’s preferable not to lay down – because people have a tendency to fall back to sleep when they lay down, but other than that, sitting in a particular posture really isn’t that important to me.

There are many meditation disciplines that emphasize sitting ‘the right way’ quite a bit. If you were in class on Monday, you heard Betty giving direction on how to formally sit in the seven pointed posture – and it makes sense – certain seated positions not only open us up physically but also open us up emotionally. When our posture is open, when our spine is erect and our hands are not crossed in front of us, we feel more open and confident! In fact, if you sit straight up you get more oxygen to the brain making it easier to learn.

With all that said, what I’ve found over the years is that while the posture we use in a formal class is useful, what happens sometimes is we get so wrapped up on perfecting and maintaining that perfect posture that it becomes less open and more rigid.  We focus on how to make the perfect seat (adding blankets, blosters, etc) so my leg won’t fall asleep. We start to hyperfocus on perfecting ‘the one seat’.

For me, I never sit on the floor at home. In fact, much like this picture of my son meditating before school, I sit on a couch with with a blanket over me. I suggest the real reason that yogis sat on the floor thousands of years ago is… wait for it… because they didn’t have comfortable chairs!

What I try to do in my seat is cultivate an inner attitude for openness. What’s most important is that we approach meditation with the quality of being relaxed, open, and alert. Especially in the beginning. The last thing I want to be thinking about during my meditation is how much pain in my body is in – I really don’t need the extra distractions… I do fine all by myself . So, it’s all about our inner attitude.

A few questions for you to think about as you find YOUR seat – whether it’s slouchy or straight – Are you open or closed off? Do you sit with ease? Is your approach simple or rigid? Are you thinking too much about the body during the meditation?

Be comfortable.

I hope this helps!

-Andy

Commit to Sit 2015 – The 250 Work Day Meditation Challenge

TBB_transformMeditation, much like exercise isn’t always easy.  Most people don’t like it, but if we can get past a certain point together – usually it takes about two weeks to a month of workouts – you’ll get committed.  So to help you stay committed you can connect with us every week.

The Challenge:

Meditate, twice a day – for 10 minutes, Monday through Friday, 5 days a week. Take the weekend off.

Who:

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced meditator, if you want to harness the power of meditation to manage stress, lower blood pressure, improve focus, get better sleep, or explore your own inner landscape, this is an exceptional opportunity to learn with some of the most accomplished leaders in the field of mindfulness and meditation. We welcome everyone to be part of this amazing journey.

When:

Starting January 6, this meditation challenge will be open to everyone. We will kick it off again this year at Monday’s Move & Meditate 6:30 PM at Stil Studio. Invite your friends!

The Path:

We will break each week down into themes. The theme is designed to help us focus on one aspect of meditation and mindfulness that we can work on for that week. Each theme will have a corresponding quote – that we can come back to and read. It should help us remember to practice mindfulness in our everyday life. We want to keep the theme of the week in our awareness all week long so we suggest people print it our or post it all over your home/work, etc. The 250 work day challenge is designed to show you how easy it can be to work meditation into your day – integrating a new mindful attitude – changing your choices and life.

Throughout the WHOLE YEAR we will explore many different meditation styles and practices – and play around with different techniques, time periods, and provide tools that keep you inspired to commit to sit. The goal is to find a mediation practice that works for YOU, so you can sustain it throughout the whole year. You can have access to our special Move & Meditate Facebook Group where we can support and encourage each other the whole year, share our experience, the breakthroughs and roadblocks, ask questions, and offer ideas and theme suggestions for future classes.

We encourage everyone to share their own personal experiences each day on the fb page so we can keep it central, and you can see your own growth over time, you can also share tips and suggestions from your personal experience.

The Method:

• daily tips, posts, and inspirational quotes.

• more BuddhaBreaks and takeaways tools to assist you in creating lasting change through meditation.

• got a question about meditation? “Ask Andy” anytime.

Please join us on our heartfelt mission to bring meditation and mindfulness into your daily life and into the lives of those around you.

Why:

Since August of 2005, my dharma has been simple and clear – make meditation accessible to as many people as I can so they can connect more fully to the present moment and be happier in their lives.

I hope to see you in class!

-Andy

Interior Illumination

BuddhaBreak: Simplify Your Meditation During The Holidays

IMG_5008

The holiday rush can add a ton of stress to our already too busy day.  Think about it, there are now seemingly way more things to do, more things to buy, more disruptions in our usual routines – it can be a heavy price to pay on our body and mind.

I feel like I’m going through this now. As all of my classes are wrapping up for the year, I’ve had this feeling of not having enough time to do what is needed – to connect fully – without thinking of all the stuff I need to get done, or didn’t get done.  In the beginning of some of my meditations this week, I’ve felt restless and anxious and will notice one of my restless legs tapping (a sure sign for me that my body and mind is saying saying, “hurry up, Andy… get this over with.” .

No matter how busy the holidays get, we need to take time each day to stop and be present with our life – as it is – even if it’s restless.

If you can’t meditate for 10 minutes each day, don’t throw in the towel. Meditating for 5 minutes can be just as an effective practice – even better for you, if you can schedule it in a few times a day.

Above all, remember our mantra for this year – be kind to yourself.  Inner peace is the best place to make sure we all make it hOMe for the holidays;).

I hope this helps.

Clear Intentions

Setting Your IntentionFJ0A0251

Yoga and meditation is about trying to do everything with intention, every breath you take, every move you make (great song), every interaction – is action with meaning.  It’s moving through our yoga class noting every placement, every posture, every modification, and every judgement.  It also reminds us to put things in perspective and gives deeper meaning to those little moments when we’re able to let go of the stress of the day and focus on what we came to do – be in the room and practice.

So setting an intention clearly at the beginning of class is really the key to waking up – and as Will Hunting would say, “let the healing begin”.

I recently had breakfast with a yoga teacher who was telling me that she felt like she hit a plateau in her meditation practice.  Let’s face it, we all get stuck in ruts in different aspects of our life from time to time.  The difference between somebody that has REALLY hit a plateau in their life and somebody who continues to unfold in a real way, is the sincerity of their INTENTIONS.  This yoga teacher is clearly passionate, disciplined, and dedicated to the honesty of her practice.  It takes courage to feel that we can really BE open to our full potentiality and strengthen our attention.  The whole sense of attention is challenging because it’s just so easy to space out on all the things we don’t really need to pay attention to during the day. It requires discipline and constant cultivation in an open, curious way.

This is why I often say that whole path of mindfulness is attention, intention, and attitude. We all have this sincere INTENTION to wake up, to be with what’s here – and then we train ourselves to pay ATTENTION to the little moments – noticing our ATTITUDE in a way that really frees us.

The Attention is: present moment awareness.

The Intention is: why am I paying attention? What is the purpose?

The Attitude is: how am I paying attention? Is my attention open, curious – or is it rigid and judgmental?

Reflecting on these three elements has become integral to my practice, and often forms the beginning or end of the sequence when I’m teaching, and frees me up when I’m giving an assist.

Most importantly, it connects my practice to the other important things in my life and extends into the rest of my day.

I hope this helps!