BuddhaBreak: Simplify Your Meditation During The Holidays
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;).
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.
Meditate twice a day – for ten minutes – Monday through Friday, 5 days a week. Take the weekend off.
GOOD NEWS: Yoga and Shavasana count as a meditation, so come to yoga with us at STIL STUDIO!
Whether you are a beginner or have years of experience, join us to manage your stress a little easier, lower your blood pressure, improve your focus, enjoy better sleep or explore your 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 a part of this amazing journey!
“For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. ” – Shakespeare
A common misunderstanding about meditation I often hear is, “I can’t stop thinking” – but thinking is actually a good thing. Our mind’s job is to produce thoughts. And, thoughts are a very important part of the meditation process. The more you try to force them out, the faster the thoughts will rush right back in.
When we meditate we actually need the mind to be distracted in order for us to see the process at work. When we’re focusing on our breath, a mantra, or some other object of our meditation – we need to be able to catch ourselves distracted about the past and the future. We need to observe the fidgeting around and notice wanting to stop the timer. We have to be aware that we’re tired and restless – notice what our mind is doing – and then find a way to come back to our breath, or the object of our meditation.
The holidays are a time to gather with family and friends – to reflect, and enjoy the new season. What better way to approach the New Year with renewed energy, flexibility, and inner strength!
Come celebrate the beginning of the Winter Solstice at STIL Yoga with Betty & The Boston Buddha. We will transition into a new way of BEING by honoring the cycles of life and setting some positive intentions for the New Year. It’s a beautiful time where the Sun Stands STIL!
I had the pleasure of seeing one of my students yesterday, Tiye, who is now up at the middle school. She was picking up her younger sister from school and came right over to me with a big smile on her face. She told me how she still remembers to use her breath to come back to the present moment when she’s feeling stressed. Tiye holds the record for taking our Morning Mindfulness classes – four sessions in a row.
I’ve seen Tiye’s confidence grow over those two years and now it seems that she can jump hurdles that would stop most of us adults. Just seeing her enthusiasm smile made me smile, proof that kindness is truly contagious.
The summer is almost over and it’s time to get ready to send the kids back to school!
Fall is my favorite season – the cool crisp air, the return of Patriots football, The Boston Celtics and new Morning Mindfulness Classes starting back up. So while I’m excited for the new school year, I feel it’s important to remember that it can be a stressful time for our kids.
Outside of the obvious stresses that accompany a new school year – new teachers, advanced material, homework and after-school activities – most kids are just out of practice and have trouble switching gears… getting back into a structured schedule, without feeling some added stress.
Factor in the social and emotional growth that comes with being a kid – dealing with self image, appearance, peer pressure, trying to fit in and the pressure they put on themselves to do well, and you see there’s a lot more involved with going back to school than picking up some new clothes and back to school gear.
So what can we do to make these transitions as smooth as possible for everyone in the family?
“A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.” ~ Anonymous.
Over the years I have been teaching meditation to students, I’ve noticed that the ones who keep practicing day after day all experience similar detours. These detours are inevitable to becoming balanced – fully integrated – and usually come in phases.
Below is an incredibly sweet note from a student who recently attended a TBB Meditation Challenge.
I was endorsing your workshop to the nice woman working at STIL STUDIO the other day. I told her I had attended one of your workshops and that I was a complete novice, and that you are wonderful (which you are!) and that she should certainly attend. You get my thumbs up, way UP!
I started my yoga practice a little over 10 years ago, but it wasn’t until the past year or so that I noticed I needed something else other than asana. Don’t get me wrong, I love the asana part of my practice, but something inside of me told me I needed more, that I deserved more.
So, I began seeking out ways to get in touch with with the real me, my authentic Self. I started practicing another style of yoga (Para Yoga), focusing on pranayama and realized that beginning a meditation practice might be what I need the most. But where was I to begin?
“In a way, all of us have an El Guapo to face. For some, shyness might be their El Guapo. For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo. For us, El Guapo is a big, dangerous man who wants to kill us. But as sure as my name is Lucky Day, the people of Santa Poco can conquer their own personal El Guapo, who also happens to be *the actual* El Guapo!”
– Lucky Day, The Three Amigos
Whatever you want to call it… threats, problems, obstacles, hopes, worries, struggles, anxieties, suffering – we all have our own triggers for our emotions and fears. These fears clutter our thought process – they block our creativity, constrict our choices, and force us to react in predictable ways.
If we don’t learn to face our fears head on, and work with these powerful emotions as they bubble up, they can have a negative impact on our mental, physical, and spiritual health – tripping our fight or flight response and actually shaving years off of our lives.