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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

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BuddhaBreak: Simplify Your Meditation During The Holidays

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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!

Find Your Peace

FJ0A0304What creates the sense of suffering for me, and I feel for everyone really, is the sensation that our minds cannot relax and be with the truth of each experience, unless it is the way WE want it to be.

When we meditate we’re developing our emotional awareness to be with what IS happening.  We’re able to pop out of our own experience and view ourselves ‘in the moment’.  This helps bring some clarity into our own emotions and, in time, we become more comfortable with ourselves in any given situation.  This leads to authentic self confidence and fear and suffering starts to dissolve.

For this month we will focus on dealing with suffering and difficult situations.  We will see if we can LOOSEN our grip on trying to control each moment.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 10th

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM

WHERE

THE WEYMOUTH CLUB

75 FINNELL DRIVE

WEYMOUTH, MA 02188

781.337.4600

The meditation technique taught in this class uses your awareness of the present moment (and breath) to help you stay in THIS moment without judging the moment, or yourself.

Each class ends with a 20 minute guided meditation.

$10 for Weymouth Club Mind/Body Members
$15 for Weymouth Club Members
$30 for Non-Members

ABOUT THE BOSTON BUDDHA – He has been called the blue collar Buddha and a Happiness Ambassador, and he’s all that and more –  the guy you just met but feel like you’ve known your whole life, the guy who has you doubled over laughing within minutes.  And, oh yeah, he’s the guy who can teach you how to enjoy life.

Andy Kelley founded The Boston Buddha to help ordinary people like himself, learn to detach and recharge through meditation.  He prides himself on being a “regular guy” that reaches an audience that might not otherwise be inclined to meditate.

Andy studied under Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon, co-founders of The Chopra Center and renowned experts in the field of mind-body medicine.  Andy is currently a certified Meditation Instructor for The Chopra Center.  He is also a graduate of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the Center for Mindfulness at UMass Medical School.

Andy has worked with companies such as Hill Holiday, Thomson Reuters, and the American Association of University Women among others.

Andy Kelley’s mantra is “Meditation for Everyone”.

How to be kind to yourself when you're stressed out.

“I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain

FJ0A0323It’s pretty much impossible to be in any kind of career these days and not experience bouts of intense stress from time to time.

Most of us are bombarded with tons of stuff all throughout our day.  We have too much on our plate, emails, phone calls, texts to return, and deadlines quickly approaching.  Management is on top of us, everyone seems to rely on us – and to top it all off,  we have to leave work ‘on time’ today to pick up the kids and feed them before baseball practice.  We’re under a lot of pressure – so much that we suspect the quality of our work, day, and life is suffering.

Let’s face it, there will always be stress in our life.  The difference between those who are calm, relaxed, and focused in these stressful times, and those who aren’t, is based on HOW you deal with stress in the moment.

When we’re overstressed, we react, go too fast, and can pile on even more stress by making little mistakes that we would not usually make.  When this happens, we tend to be a little too hard on ourselves. We say things like, “What the hell’s wrong with me?“, ” You did it again, you idiot“, etc.  As if being a total donkey to our self with some nasty self-criticism will make us feel better.
Continue reading “How to be kind to yourself when you're stressed out.”

5 Reasons to attend our Move & Meditate day long Workshop

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The Center At Westwoods Labyrindth

Take a minute to reflect on all the emotional energy and effort you put into everything that you do in your life – your work, family, friendships, community, travel, health, etc.
Our lives are very busy and clearly over-scheduled – sometimes we forget how restorative and renewing it can be to take any time away from our daily routine to recharge the batteries and connect deeply with ourselves and others in nature.  When was the last time you took a full day for yourself and disconnected from your smartphone, your laptop, your Saturday routine and just recharged?

Why would you want to do that?

Well, I have five great reasons to join us on our day long mini-retreat, Saturday, July 26th – from 9 to 5 at The Center At Westwoods.

Continue reading “5 Reasons to attend our Move & Meditate day long Workshop”

Bodhichitta – Awakening Heartfulness

What a great vibe in class last night!  As I was practicing, I was thinking that there’s another great way to cultivate the path of bodhicitta – the practice of Tonglen.HEARTFULNESS

The Buddhist term bodhicitta in Sanskrit means the awakened heart and mind. “Citta” is translated as consciousness of heart and mind; “bodhi” means awaken.

Sometimes we can mistake our meditation practice as a tool to fix our self.  What we’re really doing in is learning to accept what is – and fully FEEL – what is true.

For me, the path of botticitta is the willingness to be open to what’s difficult – a willingness to touch all those raw nerves that makes us fully alive.  That takes a lot of heart.

My wife’s family come from a long line of Buddhist monks. I’m often reminded by our Aunt June, that in most Asian cultures the word for mind and heart is the same. So, I invite you to think of mindfulness and hart-fulness together, as one. I know it helps me add in that feeling of true compassion for my self and gives me more freedom to be with what is.

So, we can use Tonglen as “the middle way” – to be with – the act of compassion. It’s kind of like we are learning to put down our armor. If we give up our resistance – if we feel the pain, the fear, the love – our defenses and story will start to fall down. We really see that the only way to open… is to listen.

With Tonglen, we’re learning to say, “Ok, there’s the pain. Can I let go of my resistance and just let myself feel fully what’s true here?”.

We learn to breathe in with Tonglen and just open ourselves to be touched by the pain. Then, we learn to breathe out and sense that wide open space that can hold it all. So there’s breathing in and being touched by the pain, breathing out and letting go into that love, that heart-fulness, that wide openness.

In my friend Kevan Gale‘s guided Tonglen meditation below, we sense our own pain, our own suffering and then other’s – and we breathe with that but then we open it and widen our circle, so that we’re breathing for all of those beings that have that same experience of suffering as we do.

It takes courage and heart to let go of this resistance and be willing to sit with what’s here. It takes compassion to get under our storyline, our drama and notice what it feels like in your body – because as I said last night – that wounded feeling, that shakiness, those feelings that we tend to push away can feel “pretty crappy” the first few thousand times we choose to feel them.

I hope this helps!

-Andy

10 Minute Guided Meditation with Kevan Gale of Stil Studio (this session was recorded live during class)

https://www.thebostonbuddha.com/audio_mp3/KG_Tonglen_1-2.mp3

On Your Mark, Deep Breath, OM!

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Patriots Day 2008

Running The Boston Marathon? Come and gain a mental training advantage on us!  Take Move & Meditate at Stil Studio for FREE on Monday 4/14 OR Thursday evening 4/17!

It has been an exhausting year and a very cold training season.  As a runner myself, I can really relate to the strong emotions the runners will feel this year as they make their way to the starting line.  I understand the lifestyle, the passion for the sport, and the anxiety (which many will deny having) – from tapering struggles, to obsessive race day weather watching, to wondering if one will actually sleep the night before – these distractions can derail all the hard work a runner has put in this winter.  I do understand a little something about The Boston Marathon, having completed three myself (2001, 2008, 2011) – I know how hard it is to sit and do nothing that week before… waiting, while all your friends and family are in town wanting to see you and tour this great city.

I’ve also seen enough media coverage this year to know that there must be a balance on how much a runner takes in – so you don’t expend all your emotional energy well before the race begins.

 

That’s why this week Stil Studio and The Boston Buddha will be dedicating our MOVE & MEDITATE class to anyone running The Boston Marathon – FREE.  Stop by on Monday night 6:30 to 7:30 PM or Thursday evening from 7:00 to 8:00 PM.  We will settle in with some light stretching to help calm your nerves and overcome any doubts you may have.

The theme and meditation for next week will be on letting go of difficult emotions.

MOVE & MEDITATE is a weekly class at Stil Studio (Legacy Place in Dedham) that combines the balance of a gentle flow with a healthy amount of relaxation and meditation, to help students recharge and melt away stress from every part of their body.
On Mondays (Betty Riaz & Andy Kelley) and Thursdays (Jen Howell & Andy Kelley) the class consists of a 30-minute simple slow flow Vinyasa series in a dimly lit room followed by a 25-minute guided meditation, based on themes ranging from willpower to releasing anger.

This class can fill up quick so register in advance here: http://stilstudio.com/schedule/
or call the studio 781.407.9642

www.stilstudio.com

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Three Steps To Cultivating Optimism

bodhiNegative experiences are an essential part of life.  As the Buddha said, ” Life is suffering”.  It’s the First Nobel Truth.  This week in our Move & Meditate class we will learn different techniques to help us learn from our suffering and cultivate the positive in our life.

The first way to deal with a negative experience is to BE with it.  The first question I asked myself when I notice that I’m stressed or suffering is, ” What need is not being met right now?”.  So often we are motivated to escape that negative experience as soon as we are in it, that we can’t find the root of the problem.  If we can embrace and be with the negative experience, that helps us look for strategies to address that need that is not being met.   So, we want to be with the experience, feel the experience, observe the experience.
Continue reading “Three Steps To Cultivating Optimism”