Tag Archives: #MIndfulnessMondays

Mindfulness Mondays: Listening To Your Body

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“We may ignore or deride the messages of the body but its rebellion demands to be heeded because its language is the authentic expression of our true selves and of the strength of our vitality.”

Alice Miller

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How to practice, where to practice, when to practice? These are all great questions that come up about meditation! And, ones that can sometimes become an obstacle to actually practicing, especially for those new to meditation or just returning to a practice.  I’ll be sharing a few posts on this topic over the next month or so.

Today’s practice involves a bit of an exploration of posture and how to explore mindfulness through the body.  This question of posture is one that comes up often in my meditation groups. And, it’s important to know there is not one answer!  Depending on the style of meditation practice, certain specific postures can seen as beneficial.  Sitting cross-legged on the floor or in lotus posture is a common suggestion; however, this is not comfortable for everyone.

It is very important to listen to your body.  For most of us, as we move through our day, we tend to sit on chairs most often.   So taking time to explore how to practice meditation in this way can help us to bring mindfulness into our daily life.  It can also help us to begin to listen to and in a sense “befriend” our bodies.  This might not seem to be what we think meditation is all about – but being present with our bodies is a way of knowing ourselves more deeply and can be an anchor for many mindfulness and meditation practices.

I invite you to be curious!

Here’s a simple practice to explore:

Sit at the leading edge of chair so that your feet are flat on the floor.  Feel the support of mother earth beneath your feet.  Allow you spine to be straight but not tense; shoulders and stomach relaxed.  Place your hand on your knees or your lap.  If you are comfortable, gently close your eyes or have a soft gaze on the floor a few feet in front of you. 

If you feel tense, take a few deep breaths — breathing in for a count of five and out for a count of five.  If possible, begin to let some of the tension in your body go. Then, let your breath fall back to its own natural rhythm.

Begin to open up to observe your whole body; and then begin to notice any specific sensations you may be feeling.  Perhaps feeling your body on the chair, your feet on the floor, or the feeling of your clothing against you skin.  Noticing if the air is moving or still, are you feeling hot or cold, or tired or energized and so on.  Focus on any sensations you notice related to your physical body.  Just noting them and them moving on to the next sensation. 

You might notice areas where your feel pain tension, pain or discomfort. Observe them and then continue on to other sensations that are present.  This is a time to notice physical sensations without attaching to or resisting any one of them. You are simply noticing!

If you notice that your mind is wandering, which it will, (this is the nature of the mind) simply bring it back to the next feeling or sensation that arises in your body.

To finish, take another moment to tune into your whole body.  Then, focusing on your breath, envision yourself  breathing into and out of your entire body for a few cycles of breath.

Finally, take a moment to express gratitude for your body and all it does to support you in being alive and awake in each and every moment!

As always, feel free to share your reflections in the comments below.

Tashi Deleh (I honor the greatness within you!)

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Mindfulness Mondays: Actualizing The Power of Intention

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“Every journey begins with the first step of articulating the intention, and then becoming the intention.” ~ Bryant McGill

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I just finished up leading a 30 day program on Setting Intentions & Visioning Your Dreams for  2016.  It was a powerful journey and I was amazed how it really helped me to deepen in my daily practice of mindfulness and meditation as well as the theme of intention setting and visioning.

How does actualizing the power of intention relate to mindfulness?

In mindfulness and other meditative practices, we tend to find something to focus our awareness on.  It may be our breath, our body or the beauty of nature around us.  The possibilities are endless.  We can also focus on our thoughts. This may include noticing the thoughts, worries or concerns that arise in our mind.  And, it may include cultivating positive thoughts or intentions such as gratitude, peace or loving ourselves.

To me, working with intention is a mindful practice. By setting intentions, both in an overall way and on a daily basis, I find I am more able to stay present with myself, to notice when I am aligning with that intention and to also recognize when I am distracted or off center.  In a way, an intention that we’ve created for ourselves is an anchor for our practice and for living mindfully.

I’ve shared several posts on Actualizing The Power of Intention previously on The Heart of Awakening.  For today’s practice, I’d like to share this audio meditation…

 

If you’d like to explore this topic more, I invite you visit my website’s Actualizing The Power of Intention, which includes a free 60 minute teleseminar previously recorded on 2/2/15 and a special offer, too!  Learn more…

Feel free to share you comments, thoughts and reflections on this week’s exploration below!  Or, join our Meditation & Mindfulness in a Rapidly Changing World group on Facebook.

Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!


 

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Mindfulness Mondays ~ Walking Meditation

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“In order to have peace and joy, you must succeed in having peace within each of your steps.  Your steps are the most important thing.  They decide everything.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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Last week, we explored Movement with Breath as a way to explore mindful movement.  I thought to continue this week with an exploration of walking meditation.

Walking meditation can be both a formal practice as well as a simple way to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life. It is one the most powerful ways to cultivate embodied awareness.  It invites you to be present as you walk, to use your steps and movement as a vehicle for mindfulness and for staying present in the moment.  It can also be a way to cultivate peace and calm as we move through our world.

You may wish to work with it on it’s own or incorporate it with a sitting meditation practice.  You may find you are on your way to work and simply choose to walk mindfully for a few blocks or for the whole trip. Be curious. Explore.

Here is video of Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh sharing about Walking Meditation…

Walking Meditation Exploration

Standing with your eyes open with a soft gaze on the floor in front of you, simply focus on your breath and begin to step right and then left, with mindful awareness.  If it’s helpful you can label your steps, “stepping right” and “stepping left”.  You can explore synchronizing the breath with each step.  As you stay present with your steps, notice what is arising in body, mind, emotion and spirit.  When you noticed you’ve become distracted or drifted off, simple return your awareness to your next step. 

Walking meditation can be done by walking in a circle or by walking back and forth in straight line, pausing when you get to an end point and really taking time to notice as your turn around.  In practicing walking back and forth, you can pause at each turn to notice how it feels to shift from movement to stillness and to movement once again.  Exploring in this way is something we can inform us so that we might walk and move more mindfully and with greater awareness as we move through our daily lives.

You may wish to incorporate some of what Thich Nhat Hanh shared about taking peaceful steps into your exploration.  During our annual, May is For Metta event here on The Heart of Awakening Blog, we explore combining Walking Meditation with Lovingkindness practice.  Here is last year’s post if you’d like to explore this practice on Walking Metta Meditation.

Feel free to share your experiences and reflections in the comments below.


Come join us on Facebook! Meditation & Mindfulness In A Rapidly Changing World group is a space where I share each week’s practice and additional resources on mindfulness and meditation. Come Explore!

Mindfulness Mondays ~ Movement With Breath

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“In the midst of movement and chaos,

keep stillness inside of you.” 

~ Deepak Chopra

Butterfly BeautyThere are many ways to practice mindfulness meditation.  Beginning to include practices that incorporate movement can be a way to deepen your presence and support you in being more mindful as you move about through your daily life and the world around you.

Anytime that you practice mindful movements, with your attention fully in the activity and with a mindful attitude, you are practicing meditation.  Some activities to explore include walking, eating, cleaning, or doing the dishes. We’ll take time to work with each of the in future Mindfulness Mondays posts.

For this week, I was feeling to share a few simple ways to begin to explore working with mindful movement and the breath.  As I’ve shared before, sometimes due to the subtlety of the breath, it can be hard to focus on it, especially for beginning practitioners.  Also, for people who have experienced trauma or tend to be disconnected from their bodies in some way, bringing together movement and the breath, can be a way to really become more connected within themselves.

Movement With Breath Exploration

You can do these practices either sitting, on a chair or crosslegged/lotus position on the floor or in a standing position.  Sometimes it is good to explore practicing mindfulness in a standing position — if you have not done so, I encourage you to do so with this practice.  There may be times when practicing mindfulness is helpful in your daily life but taking time to sit and practice is not possible.  As you cultivate a standing practice, it will become easier practice mindfulness as you stand on line at the grocery store, walk down the street, etc.

Come to a comfortable position either sitting or standing.  If standing, stand up straight with your feet about hip-width apart. Allow your knees to be slightly bent, not tense. Relax your shoulders back, your chest and your stomach.  Tilt your chin a bit toward your chest so that your head is balanced on your neck and shoulders.

Whether sitting or standing, have a soft gaze on the floor in front of you, about 3 feet forward.  Begin to notice the sensation of your breath.  Become mindful of any areas in your body that feel tense or uncomfortable. Without trying to relax them, simply notice.

3 Ways To Practice Movement With Breath…

1) Floating Arms ~ After a few moments of tuning into to your breath and your body, begin to move your arms upwards in front of you with palms facing the floor.  As you breathe in, letting your arms simple float up to about shoulder height, continuing to rise for the length of the in-breath.  Once at shoulder height, slowly let then move back down as you breath out, returning to the side of your body on as the out-breath completes. Repeat this practice 10 or 15 rounds and notice any physical sensations as you do so.

2) Butterfly HandsHolding your hands in front of your body at a 90 degree angle. Place your palms together, fingers touching and then cross your thumbs one over the other.  As you breathe in, allow the pinky side of your hand to move outwards, spreading your finger and keeping thumbs intertwined so that your hands appear to be a like a butterfly opening it’s wings. As you breathe out, allow your bring your hands back together palms together, fingers touching and thumbs crossed.  Repeat this practice 10 or 15 rounds and notice any physical sensations as you do so.

3) Lotus FlowerHolding your hands in front of your body at a 90 degree angle. Place your palms together with all fingers touching and pointing straight out from your body.  On your in-breath, move the thumb side of your hands outward, allowing all of the fingers but the pink to become open, like a lotus blossoming.  On the out-breath, slowly bring your fingers together one by one from ring finger back to thumb until palms are together once again.  Repeat this practice 10 or 15 rounds and notice any physical sensations as you do so.

Take a few mindful moments to watch this video of a lotus blossom opening and closing.  There is a a rhythmic stillness in this movement which we can bring to our own mindfulness movements.  

After exploring these practices, you may also like to create your own mindful movements.  Be creative.

At the end of your practice, take some time to reflect, explore and journal about the following questions:

  • On a scale of 1 – 10, how mindful did you feel as you began?
  • On a scale of 1 – 10, how mindful did you feel as you finished your practice?
  • What did you notice about your bodily sensations?  Was one movement more beneficial for you than another?
  • What thoughts arose while you were practicing?
  • What emotions arose for you while your were practicing?
  • How did it feel to incorporate movement with the breath? How might you continue to work with this type of practice?

I hope you’ll take some time to explore mindful movements this week. 

Tashi Deleh (I honor the greatness with you!)

Beth

Mindfulness Mondays ~ Labeling Thoughts

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Whether one is new to meditation and mindfulness practice or a more experienced practitioner, there will be days that are more challenging than others, when we simply find the mind is busier.  Also, there many be times when we are really struggling with certain thoughts such as worries, concerns, judgements that can really take us out of the present moment.  

Practicing mindfulness is in a sense like any other exercise practice one might develop.  It takes time to build our muscles when we start lifting weights and it takes time to build our “mindfulness” muscles when we begin to practice.  Working with noticing and labeling our thoughts is a way to begin to grow in our ability to be more mindful. 

Oftentimes, there are so many thoughts circling round and round in our minds that we cannot even identify them.  Or, if we stop to notice a thought, we can’t imagine how we even got there.  Practicing mindfulness helps us to de-clutter our mind and allows us to be more awake and alive in the present moment.  As we can notice some of our habitual thoughts and patterns, we can begin to acknowledging and accepting them and let them go. 

The practice of Labeling thoughts helps can help to raise awareness about the specific types of thoughts you may have and it is also a way to engage your mind during practice.  In a sense noticing and acknowledging our thoughts can become and anchor in the same way the breath may be used as an anchor.  As we notice our thoughts, we don’t judge or analyze them, we simply notice and let them go as best we can.  The labeling is a way to begin to let go.

Labeling Thoughts Practice

This practice can be done formally as a part of a sitting practice and informally, as on the spot practice, throughout your day.  I do often suggest to begin to work with a practice as part of a sitting practice, even if it’s for 5 or 10 minutes, to begin to get familiar with the practice. Then, begin to bring it into your daily life.  

Find a comfortable position sitting on a chair with feet flat on the floor, spine straight but not tense, shoulders and stomach relaxed, hands on your knees or lap. Or, sit comfortably on the floor cross-legged with a cushion to support your body. 

Gently close your eyes or have a soft gaze on the floor in a few feet front of you if that’s more comfortable.

Take a few moments to connect with you breath without changing or depending it.  Just begin to notice the breath as it flows into and out of your body.  Notice how it feels to slow down and center yourself.  Continue to be present with your breath. 

Begin to notice any thoughts that may arise.  You may notice a flurry of thoughts right away.  You may be thinking about your To Do list, grocery shopping, worrying about a family member, etc.  You just begin to notice your thoughts.  If there are many, try to notice just one thought and as you do, begin to label it, “Thinking”.  Then, come back to your next breath – breathing in and breathing out.  When you notice another thought, label it “Thinking”.  And, once again simply come back to your next breath.

At times, you many be “Thinking, Thinking, Thinking, Thinking…” and at other times you may begin to notice some spaciousness as you are present with your breath.  Either way, you are simply noticing what is arising in your mind and in your practice. 

This is a simple way to practice Labeling Thoughts.  Sometimes it is helpful to label types of thoughts and we will explore that in future posts, however, by using “Thinking” as the label it is actually helping us to detach from our thoughts or the type of thoughts we may be having, e.g. worry, judgement, etc.  Building a habit of not identifying with a certain thought can begin a powerful process of letting go.  We are just being with whatever is arising in our minds, noticing it, labeling it “Thinking” and letting it go. 

I hope you’ll take some time to explore Labeling Thoughts this week.  As always, feel free to share your reflections in the comments below.

Namaste.

Beth

Mindfulness Mondays ~ 7 Ways To Practice Mindfulness

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I thought to wrap up the last Mindfulness Mondays post of 2015 with a summary of practices we explored recently and added a post on Gratitude practice, too!  I am planning to continue this weekly series in 2016 to offer a virtual space for you to explore mindfulness and meditation practices.

If you’d like to connect with a virtual mindfulness meditation community, I invite you to join my Facebook group, Meditation & Mindfulness In A Rapidly Changing World.  Each week, I share our practice plus some additional resources and information.  There’s an opportunity to connect and explore together; and I am planning to offer some teleseminar gatherings in the new year, too!

As always I love to hear your reflections, so feel free to drop a note in the comments below if there is something you’ve enjoyed, benefitted from or would like to see more of in 2016! 

  1. Parallel Breaths

  2. Urge Surfing

  3. Take Your Mindfulness To Work

  4. Noticing Feelings & Emotions

  5. Coherence Breathing

  6. Practicing STOP

  7. Make A Gratitude List


Upcoming Events

January 1 – 30 ~ Setting Intentions & Visioning Our Dreams 30 Day Writing Program (Virtual)
1st Sundays ~ Healing The Shadow Shamanic Journey Telelcass (Virtual)
2016 Dates TBA ~ Healing The Shadow Shamanic Journey Process Group in Annapolis, MD (Local)
May 1 – 31 ~ May Is For Metta 2016: 31 Days of Loving-kindness Meditaton & Practice (Virtual)
June 2016 ~ Discover The Healer Within 4-Session Program (Virtual)
For details and registration information on events, visit http://www.bethterrence.com/Events.html or Sign Up my for Discover The Healer Within E-News to get updates on events, articles and special offers.

Mindfulness Mondays ~ Parallel Breaths

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One of the things I notice that happens this time of year is that there is a tendency to feel a sense of chaos or overwhelm that goes beyond our personal experience.  My sense is it has to do with the contraction of energy that is happening as we approach Winter and the Solstice, particularly for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.  Whether it is seasonal or not, at various times in our lives we can experience a sense of chaos or disorder.  Meditation and Mindfulness offer a space for us to ground, center and open ourselves more fully in the present moment.

The Parallel Breath practice is one that I use daily and have shared with my clients and in classes for many years.  I initially learned it from Fritz Smith, the creator of Zero Balancing, a cutting edge body/energy therapy that I utilize in my holistic healing practice.  In Zero Balancing classes, we begin each day with this practice and it is easy to see the difference it can create in your state of being with just a few minutes of practice.

A few months ago, around the time of the Autumn Equinox, I shared a short audio of this practice and I think it’s even more beneficial at this time.  If you’d like you can simply listen to the practice or see the overview below…

Guided Parallel Breath Practice

 


 

Here is an overview of the practice:

Close your eyes and begin by just observing your breath as it is.  For a few moments, deepen the breath a bit and try to establish an even rhythm, breathing in for a count of five and out for a count of five. 

Then, begin to imagine that as you breath in you draw energy in from above and down through the top of your head.  As the in breath continues, draw this energy to down toward the base of your spine and exhale out into the earth.  On the next inhale, draw the breath up from the earth into the root center at the base of your spine, allowing to flow upwards exhaling back out the top of your head.  Continue in this way breathing from earth to heaven and heave to earth.  

You may wish to image the breath flowing like a wave of energy or even a waterfall cascading up and down through your body.  If you are feeling tension in a physical area or are having a challenging emotion, you can imagine that as the breath moves up and down it is loosening or moving your tension away. 

This practice support grounding in that we are connecting with earth and we are also connecting with spirit or source, however we define that for ourselves.  The parallel nature of the breaths helps us to feel more stable energetically and this helps with any sense of chaos or disorder we may be feeling. 

Practice for as long as you feel to.  5 or 10 minutes is a good amount of time to explore and as you work with this practice, you may find that just a few breaths in this way can help you to recalibrate and move more fully into the present moment. 

I hope you’ll take some time this week to explore!

Namaste.

Beth

Mindfulness Mondays ~ Urge Surfing

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Change Your Life Message #1

Urge surfing is a term coined by Alan Marlatt as part of a program of Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention that his research project helped to develop as an alternative resource for people recovering from addictions to alcohol and other drugs.  Urge surfing can actually be used to help with any addictive behavior or pattern such as emotional eating, smoking, compulsive shopping, etc.  It can also be applicable overall as a tool for staying focused from all of the distractions that arise in our lives that may keep us from being more fully present with ourselves.

Through research, what Marlatt found was that urges for substance use rarely last for very long. In fact, they almost never last for longer than about 30 minutes, if there is no opportunity to actually use a substance.  Research found that people admitted to a detoxification center where there was no access to their drug of choice often found it remarkable how little craving they actually experienced and/or how their cravings would move through in a short time. 

This is fascinating!  It is this internal struggle that feeds the cravings and attachments.  Marlatt likened trying to fight cravings to trying to block a waterfall from flowing.  We end up being flooded.  Urge Surfing invites us to use mindfulness to step aside and allow our cravings, impulses & urges to simply flow right past us.

Urge Surfing Exercise (adapted from Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention)

  • Find a comfortable position sitting on a chair or the floor
  • Begin with a few mindful breaths
  • Observe yourself  for any sensations of discomfort such as restlessness, an itch or body pain such as a headache, back pain or knee pain
  • Notice you natural response to rub, scratch, or move as a way to resist your discomfort as it arises
  • Notice any thoughts that may arise such as “I wish this itch would go away”, “This itch is driving me crazy”, or “I would love to scratch this itch”…
  • Remember that these thoughts are just that – simply thoughts; you may wish to label it, “it’s just a thought”.
  • Whenever you notice thoughts arising, gently and lovingly bring your attention back to your next breath and awareness of your bodily sensations
  • Begin to notice how the position, shape and quality of your discomfort shifts over time.  Continue to feel it as best you can, noticing how the intensity and shape changes with each cycle of the breath. You might inquire, “Is it stronger during the in breath or during the out breath?”
  • If you find your thoughts going onto other matters, such as your to do list, a situation at work, your plans for the weekend, etc., remember that these are “just thoughts”.  Gently and lovingly bring your attention back to your breath and body sensations.  And, notice how these sensations may have changed.

In this exercise, you have begun to observe the changing nature and impermanence of urges.  When you notice the physical sensations with interest, you are directly facing the urges rather than feeding them through resisting them.  As we try to eliminate our urges by distraction or talking ourselves out of them, we often just intensify those urges.  Research has shown that trying to suppress a thought, feeling or sensation, including pain, rather than decreasing it, actually increases it.

In Mindfulness, rather than avoiding our thoughts, feelings or urges, we simply notice them.  If we can simply let an urge be – non-judgmentally – without feeding it or resisting it, we will soon notice that it begins to rise, subside and finally drift away, just like an ocean wave.  It may come back again but as you become able to stay present with it, you will notice that these feelings will become less powerful and less frequent, too.

As an additional resource, visit the Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention website which offers lots of resources including a series of audios on mindfulness practices.

I hope you’ll take some time this week to explore Urge Surfing and Mindfulness practice!  As always, feel free to share your thoughts and reflections in the comments below.

And, if you’d like to join a virtual community exploring mindfulness and meditation, come join my Facebook group, Meditation & Mindfulness In A Rapidly Changing World

Namaste.

Beth

 

Mindfulness Mondays ~ Noticing Feelings & Emotions

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Take a few mindful breaths.

Allow yourself now to notice any emotions or feelings you are experiencing right now,          in this moment… 

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Often, we relate with our emotions or feelings in one of two ways.  We may tend to ignore our feelings and emotions to push through our experiences; or, we dive into them and cling to them in a way that defines who we are.   We may view our feelings as good or bad, positive or negative.  In Mindfulness practice, our feelings are viewed as neither good nor bad, they just are what they are. Feelings may be uncomfortable or difficult; or, they may be comfortable or easy.  But, regardless, none of them are viewed as wrong or something we want to get rid of, they just simply are!

This week’s practice is simply Noticing Feeling & Emotions that you are experiencing in the moment you are feeling them, with gentle, non-judgemental awareness, loving acceptance and gentle curiosity.

You can do this practice in two ways.  First, as formal practice, which means taking time to sit, be present and work with the practice for a period of time (5 or 1o minutes is a great start).  Secondly, you can practice it as an “on the spot meditation” – when you notice a feeling or emotion arise, you simply take a few moments to tune in and work with practice.

One of the things than can begin to happen as we work with this type of mindfulness practice is that we come to see our feelings and emotions as fluid.  Rather than attaching to them as we humans tend to do, we can come to see that our feelings and emotions come and go just as waves crashing upon the shore come in and go out – some are bigger, some are smaller, some are stronger, some are weaker but, none of them stay the same all the time!  This awareness can create a sense of freedom and spaciousness. 

  • Begin with a few mindful breaths.  If it’s helpful, label the breaths “breathing in and breathing out”.
  • Then, allow yourself now to notice any emotions or feelings you are experiencing. You may be able to name the emotion or it may just be a vague sort of feeling, either way is okay.
  • Begin to notice where the feeling or emotion is located in your body – your head, throat, chest, stomach, abdomen, gut? Notice if the physical sensation moves or shifts as you bring awareness to it.
  • Notice any sensations connected to the feeling or emotion – heat or cold, anxiousness or calm, contraction or expansion…
  • Allow yourself to be present and observe any shifts or changes in your feelings and emotions and/or any physical sensations in your body connect to them as you continue noticing feelings and emotions for as long as you feel to practice.
  • Finally, bring your awareness back to your breath for a couple of minutes.

“Think you’re destined to respond the same way emotionally to the same old triggers? Not necessarily so, says Sharon Begley. With a little mind training, you can chart new pathways “

Learn more about mindfulness, neuroplasticity and changing how we respond emotionally in Rewiring Your Emotions.

I hope you’ll take some time this week to explore Noticing Feelings & Emotions.

As always, feel free to drop a note about your experience in the comments below or join my Meditation & Mindfulness In A Rapidly Changing World group on Facebook to stay connected throughout the week.

Namaste.

Beth