Day Seventeen

Two opportunities today

And I’m going to say, if you can only do one, do the other one—you can always come back to this one.

Today, a special live-streaming, online meditation with Jon Kabat-Zinn takes place at 4pm Central Time, 2pm Pacific, to wind up The Mindfulness Summit. You can sign up here for the free event.

I will be doing both our meditation and The Mindfulness Summit meditation. Join me for one or both.

Please add your comments below. I would love to hear from you.

I’ll see you tomorrow ~

Day Sixteen

Meditation notes

We saw our first snowflakes in Minnesota Wednesday. I bundled up to meditate outside today.

When something strikes me in meditation—a different environment, or a wisdom I leave meditation with, I like to write it down. Look in today’s email for these two printable pages I’ve drawn up. Use them as you wish to capture or log your thoughts, keep track of your meditation time, or anything that strikes you.

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If you aren’t signed up for the meditation email notices, you can sign up here: http://eepurl.com/bwAoIz

There will be another journaling option to share in a day or two ~ stay tuned.

Today’s meditation ~

Please add your comments below. I would love to hear from you.

I’ll see you tomorrow ~

Day Fifteen

Releasing anxiousness and stress

One of the biggest things I notice when I miss meditation is a feeling of anxiousness. It has become my personal nudge to stop, (even for a few moments if that is all I can manage) check in with my body, breathe into my center forehead, (my preferred breathing focus) and allow some calm to wash over me. I know it’s there, I’ve spent a lot of time with that calm so it doesn’t take long to find it. But to truly feel the calm embedded, I need to stick with regular meditation.

Along with all of the benefits mentioned on Day Eight of our journey, many studies show what meditators feel: that meditation increases circulation, lowers blood pressure, reduces the stress response, and improves overall health.

Taking note of our body, part by part at the start of meditation, helps us develop a deeper awareness of our body. As we build the connection, we may notice the source of discomfort, tension, and pain in our bodies. We can breathe into those spaces, listen to and care for our body and the emotional connections held there; letting judgement fall away, and returning to the breath.

Please add your comments below. I would love to hear from you.

I’ll see you tomorrow ~

Day Fourteen

Two weeks in ~ creating the habit

Our practice is not made in having a peak experience every session, but in showing up, being present, letting judgement pass. Being. And, if it is not working for us today, if we just cannot sit, allowing ourselves to get up and come back tomorrow.

While often associated with buddhism, meditation is not exclusive to any religion or culture, it is practiced by all of the major religions and by those who align with no religion. As meditators, we are part of a growing community of people who are looking to meditation, among other reasons, to reduce stress, gain clarity, understanding, and promote brain health. “Shamatha,” the ancient Sanskrit word for meditation, means “peaceful abiding.”

I hope that you are finding this to be a place that is welcoming—that it invites you to explore meditation with curiosity and acceptance. In this context, I would like for us to grow on our path to know our true self and hear our own wise voice. In this short time my own meditation practice has strengthened and stretched. I am grateful for your presence along the way.

Thank you for abiding peacefully with me.

Please share your comments below. I would love to hear from you.

I’ll see you tomorrow ~

Day Thirteen

Expansion

At the beginning of meditation, noticing body, noticing breath, is grounding and brings the focus inside.

Moving deeper into meditation, I begin to feel the breath expanding through my whole body, then moving and flowing just beyond what feels like my physical body: it feels like my breath expands beyond me. Like dipping into the ocean, I become part of a larger, continuous rhythm. There are times too, when this doesn’t happen and I notice what may be holding my breath.

After meditation, when breath has flowed easily, and when my body has eased and I’ve met acceptance and allowed myself to let go of the unnecessary, time expands. I imagine it is likely not time that has changed, but me. I have released what I don’t need to hold on to. I have untied myself. There is more room to move about the day.

Please add your comments below. I would love to hear from you.

I’ll see you tomorrow ~

Day Twelve

Puzzle drop

How are you doing with letting thoughts go?

Teachers of meditation and mindfulness say that learning to let your thoughts go during meditation is much like exercising a muscle. Being distracted by thoughts, noticing your distraction, and bringing your self back to meditation is “working the muscle” and is part of the practice.

Something that helps me going into meditation is to imagine that all the mental stuff I am carrying around drops to the floor, scattering about like puzzle pieces. I know they are there and I don’t have to worry about them because they aren’t going anywhere. After meditation, the pieces come back together in a more orderly fashion than I began.

Sometimes a thought clings. I’ve taken to looking at the nature of those thoughts to see why they are sticking around. Generally this is an aspect of my life that needs addressing. Clingers can be helpful little messengers that flag me to notice the things that warrant attention, or to notice that I am giving too much energy to something that doesn’t require it.

Please add your comments below. I would love to hear from you.

I’ll see you tomorrow ~

Day Eleven

Becoming aware

Observing our needs and caring for ourselves can help us be more aware as we move through the world.

As a product of a culture that upheld selflessness and sacrifice for the sake of others, awareness of my own needs was fairly rudimentary. I did well in some areas but there were big gaps in others. Selflessness and sacrifice are not without merit of course, but I have made a significant shift in addressing my own needs. I realize that I am better able to function across the board when, as a general principle, I  treat myself with kindness and care for my needs. I should point out, this is still a work-in-progress.

Maybe it has to do with the quiet that comes with meditation—that in the quiet, our own wisdom is easier to hear. It is not always what I want to hear, and it is sometimes painful, but as I turn toward meditation to help me sort out lifehood, I am better able to identify and accept what and how to address the needs in my life.

Meditation is helping me to know and support a truer, wiser, more observant, and accepting self. In turn, that awareness is affecting how I see and interact in the world.

What have you noticed about the practice so far? Please add your comments below. I would love to hear from you.

I’ll see you tomorrow ~

Day Ten

Marking halfway

Ten minutes is a juicy start to getting into a meditation groove.  More tangible than one, or three, or five minutes. It takes commitment to the process to get this far. Every moment in meditation is beneficial, though I do find I get more out of it—more noticeable effect, the more time I put in. As time goes on, I am more able to carry the effect into daily life. I am present more often, I notice more and need or want less. I am more content.

As we go forward, know that each day is different. One day you may feel at peace and ease meditating for 10 or 15 minutes, or more. Another day after a minute or three you may loose patience and want to quit. You don’t have to force meditation, it is not another chore on your list. Meditation is a gift you give to yourself. If you are restless on any particular day, it is okay to let it go and come back to it tomorrow.

If you care to carry on the conversation, please leave a comment below the video.

I’ll see you tomorrow ~

Day Nine

Expanding

It might be the last warm day here in Minnesota. (The warm weather has lingered.) I brought the meditation outside today, where I can breathe in the outdoors and the neighborhood can be heard all around. Birds, dogs, airplanes, and kids playing.

In the same way my range of hearing expands outdoors to sounds from a much broader area, my breath and being expand in meditation. I am no longer closed in by my perception of myself and what I am doing. In meditation, by going within, focusing on my breath, my experience opens up. I can let go of thoughts, allow what is next to unfold in front of me; relax expectation, observe, and be.

The dogs barking, or the kids playing may be thoughts trying to enter my mind, but I can let them pass and breathe.

Please add your comments below. I would love to hear from you.

I’ll see you tomorrow ~

Day Eight

Some reasons to keep at it

If you don’t meditate every single day, don’t sweat it. Over the long haul, it is reported that regular long term meditators receive benefits.

Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson describes some of the benefits:

  • More cortical tissue
  • Thicker cortex behind the forehead, the pre-frontal region, that helps regulate attention, emotion and action.
  • Thicker cortex in the insula, a part of the brain that helps us tune into ourselves and to the emotions of others.
  • Thicker cortex in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that puts things in perspective and calms down the “alarm bell” of the brain, (the amygdala) making people more resilient and even reducing the size of the amygdala.
  • Stronger immune system.
  • Increased activation of the left side of the pre-frontal cortex, (for most people language is on the left and visual/spacial on the right) meaning more positive emotion.
  • Greater intensity and reach of gamma range brain waves, (fastest) associated with greater learning and more sense of integration and wholeness.
  • Preserves the length of telomeres, protecting us from age related illness.

I’ll take these side-effects any day.

Please add your comments below. I would love to hear from you.

I’ll see you tomorrow ~