Tag Archives: mindfulness

July Meditation

Orange Daylily Fredonia NY (c) 2013 barefoot photos
Orange Daylily
Fredonia NY
(c) 2013 barefoot photos

The garden tips in shadows and an overabundance of vegetables. Yet blossoming among the old stalks of July’s proliferation, are striking flowers. Beauty becomes the fading violet color on a Monarda going to seed or a single coral rose bending toward light.

My being flows in and out of this creation. I am one moment the created, another moment, and I become the creator. When life becomes rich in juice, I am both! Singing, without care for the distinction.

            What is practice? There are infinite ways of practicing the yoga poses. Sometimes the pose is hidden in life. Finding that the pose is life becomes the ultimate centering practice. Mindfulness.

As practice “seasons” through experience and time, yoga informs activities which are seemingly unrelated to our being on the mat. Tapas (fire, determination) and sukha  (joy, ease) play out moment to moment, no matter what activity is engaged.

So many ways we stretch beyond the physical. The way of strength, the way of holding and letting go. The way the breath informs everything.

            Sometimes the best practice is not physical.

Yoga is, after all, about the mind as well as the body and the heart.

Just becoming even slightly aware of what is going on up there in the place inhabited with a thousand chattering monkeys, is a profound practice. When breath takes me there, I roll in light and shadow.

Am I ready for what may be found? Can I allow myself to become that single coral rose blossoming amid the dried out stalks and petals in the garden? Am I ready for nirvana? It floats  in the very next inhalation. It may arrive in that still pause, the moment between exhalation and inhalation when the monkeys quiet in awe, and simple existence becomes total awareness of being.

 

Yoga, The Refuge

The practice of Being rather than Doing offers fulfillment on many levels. My yoga  often serves as a refuge to hustle-bustle, grief, stress and struggle of everyday life. Whether it’s an achy back, sore legs, overwhelmed mind, or a tired heart, I know that practice will ease the suffering.

Over the years, this has lured me into a deeper and deeper embrace of a formal, on-the-mat asana exploration. The path to wholeness and health. This is not a bad thing! The moment I land on the mat, feelings of delicious relief swirl through me. Now I can settle into BEING, opening my heart, linking my heartmindbody, and connecting with forces only the inner eye sees; the inner ear hears.

Conjure the stillness of post-savasana, or the centeredness of pranayama, or the contentment you felt after a fav yoga class. Then, despite whatever ails you today, how many parts of you hurt, how cranky or tired you are, head to a mat. Begin with your most beloved yoga pose, and let the bliss flow.

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As your practice deepens and cycles through the seasons of your life, the boundaries between the refuge you experience on your mat and in the world will slowly dissolve. Moments will gradually grow where life itself is centered in a sweet contentment that is its own refuge, no matter the circumstances. These are the moments when yoga and life are one and the same practice. Observe and recognize that they too will pass, but observe as well that those moments are the fruit of heading to your mat day after day, year after year.

Sensual Living

Do you wish you could live more fully present in your life? I sure do, so I am working on expanding my sensory awareness. There is so much that passes me by, that never registers in my consciousness every waking (sleeping!) moment

What is sensual living, but a life spent paying attention. It’s a physical life. A receptive awareness. It is presence. Experiencing all that is. Touching, feeling, seeing, smelling, moving (yes, the body has that kinesthetic sense), listening, tasting. Any and all of these modalities can become meditations if you ramp up your awareness and really open yourself to what you are experiencing. Yoga itself becomes a powerful tool for meditation this way.

I just finished reading A HOUSE BY THE SEA by poet, May Sarton. Sarton describes living a sensual life in on the coast of Maine. I feel as if I’ve lived at Wild Knoll and pulled goldenrod from her delightful garden and sipped chablis on the patio in her colorful tapestry of existence beside the sea.

Here is a video that I found inspiring and hope you will too. I can’t wait to make my own BOOK OF SENSES. I invite you to live sensually for one month. Maybe we can compare notes afterwards.

Cassie’s Workshop: Book of Senses from Cassie Oswald on Vimeo.

Sacred Self Care


"Oklahoma" rosebud in October (barefoot photos)


One of my teachers offered a teleconference course on sacred self-care. Oh, I thought, this is pushing things a bit, I mean, really sacred self care?

Furthermore, why should I sign up, I already teach self-care. Certainly I know how important it is to devote some time everyday to the important task and pleasure of taking care of myself.

Well, it was time for me to wake up to the essence as well as the deep importance of self-care practice.

The journaling and meditations I did highlighted long held resistance to my own self-care. Could I be hard-wired to NOT take care of myself? I wondered. Was it a genetic trait? Am I simply and incorrigibly lazy?

As the class progressed week by week, I found a deep well of pleasure arose in my bodymind whenever I gave myself a gift of self-care. It’s possible to tap into that well as a means of motivating myself to continue developing self-care practices.

This week, our homework was to identify one self-care practice to focus on and try to develop it. A small step it would seem, but progress and transformation happens in small simple steps repeated time and again.

So, what am I working on? My negative self-talk. I’m growing my mindfulness around the times I call myself names or otherwise speak poorly to my beautiful self. It’s tough. Sometimes I catch myself disparaging the voice that catches, “Oh, there you go again, you idiot.” Yes, I can even use mindfulness against myself! So I’m continuing to practice softening and then softening again. I need a lot of practice. Unfortunately, it seems I’m giving myself plenty of opportunity. Grrr.

I do recognize how terribly important this is though. It forms the foundation of the spiritual path. Think about it. Better yet, conjure up the feelings in your body of an abundance of self-care. Then ask yourself what would happen if you had that available all the time….

Here’s hoping that you are floating in nirvana-land with me on this one. It’s just a little bit of self-care away!

If you are jazzed by the thought of floating on a cushion of wondrous self-care, READ MORE; visit LUMINOUS HEART.

Breath, a Pleasurable Path to Mindfulness

Practicing yoga postures without breath awareness  is like eating dinner without tasting the food. 

 

Seeds at Watson Lake, Prescott AZ (barefoot photos)

 

Breath awareness is key for deepening yoga practice because it links the mind-body into a unified being. As it anchors the mind to the physical movement (or non-movement), it  awakens the body’s intelligence, as B.K.S. Iyengar says.

Mindful awareness then turns the practice from a purely physical level into meditation for the practitioner.

Breath awareness is also key to opening into more mindful awareness of life itself. When my thoughts or emotions start to spin out in their all too often merry escapades, I find that checking in on my breath can slow the wild energy down and I can more easily glimpse the reality I am experiencing sans whatever emotional or mental machinations surrounding said reality.

A simple practice for increasing conscious awareness of your personal breath patterns is to simply notice the breath and then give it a short name, such as rushing breath, or lazy breath, or not-breathing (yes, breath holding is more common than you might think), or hyper-ventilating.

Checking in with the breath, whenever you think of it during the per day, will increase your mindful awareness of the moment. As a bonus, you may find, as I have, that breathing FEELS good. Through continued practice, I have found a beautiful relationship developing with my breath. It’s a marriage that gives me much pleasure.

Riding the wave

robert-surfing
robert kieber jr. shredding the gnar at Wrightsville Beach

One of my teachers used to say to “ride the wave of the breath.” It’s a beautiful image, isn’t it? I have used it many times to reconnect with the currents of prana swirling in and out of my being.

I’m sitting here today in a different lesson. It’s riding the wave of LIFE. Geesh, do we really need to tell ourselves this? Yeah, sometimes.

I woke up with a sore in my mouth – sure sign that I’d been “processing” STUFF during my sleep. Grrr, Even yoginis can grind their teeth once in a while.

Yup, it’s one of those vata-iferous days.  It’s one of those days when I have fifty-million (at least) things burbling in me pea-brain….getting ready to fly tomorrow to coastal carolina where maybe I’ll be able to see my niece and nephew in action on the high seas, or their boards….packing – not my fav chore! …just tried on my old bathing suit – definitely not my fav chore….concerned about what kind of shape my folks are in, healthwise and concerned about how they’re holding up in their home…..good stuff is shimmering up in the grey matter as well (just more fodder for vata!) : celebrating dad’s 90th on Saturday (he may not be in BKS Iyengar’s shape, but he continued to play golf until last year – go dad!)…seeing 4 of my brothers and their families…..hiking in Croatan forest and on Emerald Isle….

This is all a prelude to confessing that I FORGOT to teach a class this morning. First time in my eight years of teaching. A BIG FAT SORRY to the Village Elders. Y’all think YOU have bad memories??? I even posted a tweet not too long ago about attention and memory that is simply too embarrassing and pretentious to repeat here cuz I am eating those words with mayo this morning.

There I was happily congratulating my yoga blogging buddies: YogaDork, YogaBrooks, and Yoga for Cynics for being mentioned in August’s Yoga Journal. Sorry YJ was not magnanimous enough to give them a link on their online version; you’ll find it at the end of the print mag in the MEDIA section. It’s a nice article by Lauren Ladocouer. When I went to refill my coffee mug, the thought of teaching a class that was by then more than half over, nearly knocked me down.

What can I do but apologize and laugh at this point? Breathe slowly and MINDFULLY for a bit.Take a turn in my garden and focus on the beauty of the gazillions of flowers that are simply opening to the glory of this day.

These moments also remind me that NOTHING is really that important.

studying the life of the buddha as an aid to meditation

You don’t need to espouse Buddhism or Hinduism or any religion at all to practice yoga and meditation.
However, we can learn much from the Buddha’s life and the practices he developed and incorporate them as a means of deepening our own spiritual journey.

Here is the fascinating story of Siddhartha’s life from the BBC and Discovery channel, directed by Clive Maltby. I found it on You Tube via dharmicjourney. The story of the archeological finds which helped piece together the Buddha’s human life is interesting in its own right. Hold on for the second half of the film which explains the obstacles Buddha faced during meditation and how he dealt with them.

Before you begin the film, pour yourself a cup of tea and make yourself comfortable so you can settle in for nearly an hour. It’ll be worth your while.

Much Ado About Nothing

INTRODUCTION TO MINDFULNESS

Here is a brief introduction to mindfulness by the Nobel Laureate and Peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh:

Thich Nhat Hanh: Intro. to Mindfulness

And if you’d like a further introduction to mindfulness, here is an excellent video with Jon Kabat-Zinn. It is about an hour long, including explanatory remarks, some guided meditation, and a question and answer session. Medium Yogini, you may be particularly interested in Kabat-Zinn’s response to the sleep question. The file was too big to reproduce here, so you’ll need to follow the link below. It’s possible however, to upload it to your computer for future use, if you like.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwwKbM_vJc

FOR FURTHER STUDY: check out Laughing Yogini’s Mindfulness page.