Call it what you need to, because you need to do it.
The words we choose change everything. In my coaching group we have discovered that vocabulary choices have different connotations and power for each of us. We know that using the right language is a key step to accommodating a new idea and curating new positive habits.
We noticed that when we looked at the word, “exercise” some found that it implied strength and the glow of pumping blood. To others it was an exhausting guilt filled word. We took some time to choose different words to describe “exercise”. Different phrases worked for different people: workout, breath body practice, joyful movement, training session.
Just like exercise is a pretty good daily ritual, Meditation is a key healthy habit. And, Meditation is another loaded word. For some it implies a torturous attempt to sit in an uncomfortable position while clearing your brain of all thoughts. For others it is an invitation into a sweet oasis.
First things first. Call it what you need to call it, because this practice is essential to transformation. It is a key step to helping you digest old patterns and free up space for new ones.
What words appeal to you? What words evoke an easeful practice, aligning with your deeper goals?
Sitting in Silence
Silent Nature Walks
How we approach our practice of meditation is the first step in our success or failure. Notice that not all of the suggestions are sitting still, not all are chasing thoughts from your brain. Meditation is a practice of moving inward. In yoga we call this Pratyahara – withdrawing the senses from the external world, and turning inward. Once our awareness is internally focused, our goal is to hold concentration, offering a steady focus to what is within you. This is Dharana in yoga. Pratyahara and Dharana are two of the 8 Limbs of Yoga (watch me talk more about it here).
We want you to succeed.
Meditation (or the word/phrase you choose to align with this practice) is like putting your head into a lion’s mouth. You are deliberately encountering a difficult situation. You are about to face your own heart. In so many ways, this may be the bravest thing you can ever do.
As you move along any transformational journey you become aware of all the subtle, unintentional ways you cope in life. Your awareness creates shifts. You develop a new strength and are able to notice the background story of how and why you make daily choices. You become present. You notice the feelings surrounding your choices. Your new strength cues your body that you have the capacity to deal with more. You may become aware of things you want to let go of, or transfer out.
Meditation is a highly effective way to help you examine and reconcile old stuff. It is a key tool in allowing the transformation that we actually want to happen. It is a gateway through the muck to the next clear place.
Here are some things to consider as you choose your words and your approach to this vital practice:
The purpose is not to “Do” anything but to allow yourself to “Be”
Allow it to feel easeful not effortful
If it is effortful – what can you do? Move first? Journal? Practice a Mantra?
Notice if you can practice meditation as a way to soothe a present agitation. Allow Meditation to be a new “reaction” to a state you do not want to be in.
Perhaps you practice mediation pro-actively. Design your day to support this habit even when you aren’t feeling stress or strain. Does a regular practice prevent the build-up that then requires a reactive practice?
Is movement a prerequisite to quieting your mind? Or is movement a diversion so that you do not need to be still?
I wish you well. I would love to hear what word or phrase works for you when you think about this practice in your life. What do you call it to support its easeful presence in your daily routine? Email me your thoughts.
What if we could sync into inner wisdom and connect to an all knowing doctor who could help us steer clear of pitfalls in our health? What if we could find our personal in-house doctor, willing to tell us everything that we need to know, if only we are able to hear what the doctor has to say. Tapping into this can be better than a pill. Ownership of this connection creates confidence and independence. It creates a high of its own. I want to share with you how I tap into my body’s inner wisdom.
The practice starts with an attempt to filter the cultural message enough to allow our body truth to be heard. We think we will need to coax this wisdom out of our bodies, but in reality, when we are ready, it is effortless, because this inner advice-giver is just as eager to connect with us.
Here is the formula that I use to connect us to that all powerful healing place.
An exhale, an opportunity to let go of what no longer serves you, to clean stuff out and create space for something new. Feel stuck? This one will help you clear away the clutter and feel the potential of each vibrant inhale.
Understanding our connection to the five elements helps us find our balance. I feel like I connect to these elements through my Ayurvedic understanding of them. As I tune into how I feel I can use the elements as descriptors of what I feel in my body. They give me metaphors and visuals that guide me back to my centre.
This was recorded at the beginning of the “Off The Mat” class at Alchemy Yoga in Sept. What followed was a stimulating and thought provoking conversation on how each of experiences the elements in our own bodies. The audio is not perfect, but the sensations are visceral.
Yoga means Union. Translating that to something tangible is achieved when we can experience that union. That is why I love these experiential breath mediations. They are so much more powerful than trying to explain something in an essay or facebook post. Connect to the definition of yoga, to the union that it speaks of with this 13 minute experience. Sit with your body, your mind, and your heart to see and feel the language of their wisdom. Get acquainted with the sensations of the body, the emotions of the heart and the rationality of the mind. The combined wisdom from these innate sources is astounding. Enjoy.
So, how often, if ever, have you considered what exactly your breath is doing for you with each inhale to each exhale. My bet is it hardly ever crosses your mind. So that being said, lets explore. You know my fondness for metaphors, well get ready for Jill Novak’s simple explanation of breath. Give yourself 10 minutes to just inquire as to what your breath does in your body. I promise it is cooler than you thought. Enjoy.
Another one inspired by the fantastic Donna Fahri’s “The Breathing Book.” Let’s explore what the breath does with your organs. Bringing attention back to your organs is a beautiful way to redirect your nervous system back to its resting and relaxed/parasympathetic system. When we start to feel and sense our organs our breath automatically slows down and serves to assist all the workings of our organs.
Sometimes it helps to centre ourselves before we start movement. It helps to “drop in” and get connected before we move. For this inquiry, sit tall on a bolster or some support underneath you. Move through the process of dropping in, then allow your movement/asana practice to begin naturally from this place. Notice if this changes your practice, how you move, how you connect to your movement.
This one is self-admittedly difficult. It is strange to try to connect the diaphragm to the movement of the pelvic floor, and yet when this function can be in its optimal state in our bodies we have a huge advantage in function, stamina, and efficiency. When this connection works as intended we move in ease, drain less energy, and just feel like movement happens with more ease. Don’t feel too frustrated if it doesn’t come easily at first, there may be some layers that need to be unraveled first, go back to some of the earlier inquiries. To set up for this one, you may need a heartbed type pose, raised higher at the head, foot soles together with knees opening onto bolsters or blocks for support. This raised position brings comfort to the body and good access for the minds eye to see the pelvic floor. Good Luck.
Sometimes how we position our physical body is key to how we can find our natural breath. Often lying flat on your back is a bit restrictive and you need to support yourself along a bolster, a recliner, or even upright with your back against support. A position that allows your spine to be in a long straight line, not curved or extended, is what you are going for. Mess around with where your long spine and your breath meet. Then mess around with this next breath meditation.
The 4-sided breath is an amazing tool to sooth anxiety and stress. It settles the nervous system allowing the brain to feel calm, the body to relax, and the emotions to stabilize.