Meditation—Just Do It

Do you know what I believe to be the best meditation practice? The one that works for you.

That’s it.

As I go deeper into my personal meditation practices I have been reflecting on my own meditation journey. I know with certainty that I had to start small and start easy. That’s what worked for me.

Perhaps, another method will work for you. That’s awesome. Embrace whatever works.

If however, you are like me and think small and easy is the answer I invite you to try meditating for just one minute a day. Give this a try for a day, or a week, or a month. Then reassess and see. Are you content staying at one minute? Or would you like to try a little longer?

I started my meditation journey with just one minute a day. It wasn’t long before I tried 2 minutes, then 5….

Over the years I have experimented with various types of meditation from guided to breath work, body scans, mantras, and recently have even been exploring death meditations.

In the beginning guided meditation is what worked for me.

I am a huge fan of the free app Insight Timer. You can easily use filters to find meditations based on length of time. You can also narrow searches to specific themes.

One of my favourite teachers is Robin Rice. She currently has 14 one-minute meditations to get you started.

https://insighttimer.com/robinrice/guided-meditations/1-minute-meditation-indulge-in-self-care

Another early option I tried was short mantra meditations. It can be a challenge for me to get out of my head. Focusing on the words of a mantra has been a great tool for me.

This is one of my favourites and just six minutes long

https://insighttimer.com/gordonburnham/guided-meditations/om-mani-padme-hum-buddhist-mantra-slash-kirtan

If you prefer silence, simply setting a timer and focusing on your inhales and exhales is a fabulous option.

Next week I will share some of the benefits of meditation, but this week if you are willing, I invite you to just be curious and explore some meditation. Embark on a little experiment and see what feels right for you.

Namaste

How Well-Resourced Are You?(and how we can work on that this weekend)

How well-resourced are you? I love this question. This is a question I first heard while working through a course led by Mark Walsh.

Often our society celebrates the ‘work hard, play hard’, ‘go big or go home’, ‘all or nothing’ type attitude. But does that ethos help or hurt?

By Mark asking participants in his courses how well-resourced they are, it allows people to really stop and think. Some days on a scale of 1-10 you might be an 8, while other days you might be a 3.

Neither answer is right or wrong. It just is what it is. Any place you fall on the scale is part of our human experience.

Things that might contribute to us not feeling well-resourced could be—not getting enough sleep, working overtime, feeling ill, relationship stress, or financial worries.

Sometimes the things that keep us from feeling well-resourced can be big, such as trauma. Some of the things can be out of our control, such as a loved one facing a serious health issue.

When we look at how well-resourced we are and apply it to fitness expectations (or even life expectations), is it reasonable to always expect 100%?

If you are feeling a 2 on the well-resourced scale, is a power yoga class really the answer? Maybe for you yes it is, but maybe not. Maybe a gentle practice will actually be of more benefit. Maybe skipping a class and getting some sleep would be even better.

The good news is that by starting to think in terms of how well-resourced we are we bring self-awareness to our ever-changing situation. We can also start to collect information on the things that help us feel more well-resourced and try to incorporate them into our days.

For me, it is the simple things that help me feel well-resourced including

-getting outside in nature

-tuning off the TV earlier and getting more sleep

-eating more fruit

-staying hydrated

-putting on some music and dancing

-making time for meditation

When I take the time to make these things part of my day I feel better, no matter what else might be going on in my life.

I have found that thinking about how well-resourced I am also helps to foster self-compassion. If I am a 3, I can lower the expectations I have for myself, be kinder and gentler with myself, and spend some time on activities that nurture and nourish me.

This weekend I encourage you to think about how well-resourced you are. Then, make a list of the things that contribute to you feeling well-resourced. Finally, see if you can add one or two of these soul nurturing things into your days.

Make a great weekend

Namaste

Letting Go of Regrets (and starting to trust the timing of your life)

A week ago I saw tweet from a woman in her 30s who despite having a good education had found herself back in her hometown living with her parents and working a job that barely paid for life’s necessities. She expressed concern that she was not meeting the milestones in life like she had thought she would. She said she felt like a failure as an adult.

Like many others who saw her tweet I assured that she was not a failure and that there are no ‘right’ timeline for people. We all have our own journey and that may not look like the journey of our friends, family members and neighbours.

I shared with her how when I was in my 30s I was insecure about my lack of education and that I was fortunate to be able to finally pursue one. I shared how it wasn’t until my 40s that I started my own small business.

It could be so easy to get locked into inner dialogues about the what-ifs of doing things differently. However, that would serve no purpose.

Last weekend a memory came up on my Instagram (photo above). It was when I graduated from my yoga teacher training three years ago. I have been practicing yoga for decades and had often thought about, and even looked into becoming a yoga teacher. Yet, I didn’t.

This is another thing where I could chastise myself about for not doing it sooner. However, when I look at the photo I am reminded of the wonderful, kind instructors I had, the other inspiring students I met, and my frame of mind at the time of that training.

If I had done it years ago I wouldn’t have had the experience I did. Connections I made in that training have led me to other things that I may never have heard. I was meant to connect with the people I did. It was the right time for me.

If you have come across this and have sometimes felt like the woman who wrote the tweet, may I also assure you. There is no perfect timeline for a life. You are not a failure. You are good enough – just the way you are.

Gratitude Journal

With everything going on in the world it is a fabulous time for people of all ages to start or get back to the practice of keeping a gratitude journal. I was first introduced to the idea in the book Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach 2 decades ago. Since then over the I have kept a gratitude journal on and off.

While some people suggest sitting down with this journal at the end of the day, I find first thing in the morning works best for me. With my morning cuppa tea I simply add 5 things I am grateful for. It is a simple, short ritual that gives you a positive start to your day.

In The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown she discusses wholehearted living and one quality wholehearted people cultivate is gratitude. She claims gratitude is not something you either have or not. Instead, she discusses how wholehearted people practice gratitude and then become more grateful.

Often it is the little things that I am most grateful for. Today’s entries are- 1 . I am grateful that it is the first day of spring 2. I am grateful for sunshine and blue skies 3. I am grateful that Canada is taking Covid-19 seriously 4. I am grateful that I know so many people taking Covid-19 seriously and doing everything they can to prevent it spreading 5. I am grateful to have so many books to read while home practicing social distancing

Keeping a gratitude journal over the years is one tool I would credit for helping me keep a positive outlook. As we face uncertainty in the weeks ahead I would encourage everyone to give this daily habit a try.

Namaste

Morning Ritual-Make a Great Day

Once upon a time I was not a morning person. I saw the early morning just before I went to bed. Yet, over time I have changed and now delight in waking up in the pre-dawn hours. With these early mornings I have found there are little things I like to do when I rise to set the foundation for a great day-my morning ritual.

I confess, when I first awake I do reach for a device. However, I reach for my device, go to my Insight Timer app and start the day with a chant. Om Mani Padme Hum is one of my favourites though sometimes I mix it up. After a quick chant I find a meditation to start the day. The wonderful thing about Insight Timer is you choose the length of time for your meditation and a topic you would like to focus on. I used to think I didn’t have time to meditate, but this app has meditations as short as one minute. Everyone has one minute-no excuses. I used to think I couldn’t meditate, or didn’t like meditating without ever giving it a fair shot. Maybe you hold the same thoughts. Again, no excuses. Commit to trying it for 3 weeks and see what benefits you can reap from this simple act. I started with just one minute once a day.

Once I have finished my chanting and meditation I journey to the kitchen and put on the kettle for tea. My tea of choice is Earl Grey, however for the first morning cup I opt for an herbal or green tea. While waiting for the kettle I step outside, breathe in some fresh are, then take a moment to write in my gratitude journal. In a gratitude journal you simply write 5 things that you are grateful for. Traditionally, I think people suggest doing them before bed. That didn’t work for me so adapted it to what does work for me.

Bringing my steeping tea along, I then go to the yoga mat where I do a little morning yoga. Perhaps I will do a couple poses, perhaps I will do several. The point is not to be strict with yourself. The point is to partake in healthy habits that build a healthy life while at the same to listening to your body and working with your schedule. As I do yoga I enjoy that first cup of tea.

After my yoga my body is awake and energized. I now take part in some form of workout. What kind of work out? Again, it depends. Some days it is a brisk walk with the dog or a bike ride, other days it is BarreAbove, TRX or strength training. Maybe if I really don’t feel in the mood I will do a couple body weight exercises such as squats and push-ups. It doesn’t matter what the work out is or how long, what matters is your moving your body. If you don’t keep moving your body and challenging it, you will find that you begin to lose the ability to do the things you once did, and be plagued by aches and pains and low energy. In my 20s there was a time I didn’t work out and had debilitating back pain and no energy. In my mid 40s I feel much healthier now than I ever did then. Through whatever form of exercise I choose that morning I sip on some water to keep myself hydrated.

Once done the workout I am ready for a little reward and take the time to make my own London Fog. I prep a bowl of fruit and some yogurt for breakfast. As I sit down to eat my breakfast I grab a book to read while eat. Again, with the brain-use it or lose it. I believe we have to challenge our brains for it to stay fit. Reading is a simple yet pleasurable option.

So you might be thinking -chant, meditate, fresh air, gratitude journal, tea, yoga, workout, breakfast, read-I can’t fit all that in. First, I would say, ‘Of course you can’. My whole morning ritual can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on the time I have and my motivation that day. Start with small amounts of time for each activity. Secondly, you don’t have to choose every action I take. Start with a handful that most interest you or choose some of your own.

In my experience, morning rituals set the stage for a positive day. The best part of my morning ritual is it is available to everyone. It doesn’t cost money, can be adapted to all ages and abilities, can be done in any home and with whatever time you have.

What does your morning look like? I would love to hear fun, positive ways others start their days. Whatever your morning looks like I hope you are able to make a great day. Namaste.

Photo by Morgan Sessions on Unsplash