Living with intention, meditation

On learning and unlearning

Student

The hardest thing
about unlearning
is letting go of what
you thought you
knew

By Alexandra Elle, Neon Soul

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meditation, Pondering

Monday Meditation: Growth

Growth occurs when the conditions are right, mostly when and where you least expect it.

Photo by Dove (my daughter).

*Monday Mediation is a new series here on the blog… it is a thought, question, or inspiration inspired by a photo or phrase.

Home yoga practice, meditation, Music and yoga, Yoga off the mat

Music as meditation

I listen to a lot of music. It occurred to me that music has been my meditation since I was about seven years old. I imagine it’s not uncommon.

The ancient philosopher Plato wrote about music as being “most sovereign because… rhythm and harmony find their way to the inmost soul and take strongest hold upon it… imparting grace, if one is rightly trained… ” (The Republic, III, 399e). As an undergrad, I heard Ted Romberg summarize another of Plato’s views on music, which I remember as, “Music is the most perfect way to divide and account for time.” (Paraphrasing… )

Each time you listen to or play music to indulge, to set or change a mood… that is a form of meditation. Also singing. Putting headphones on as way to zone out, on the sidewalk, or on the train, that is a form of meditation. I started doing it when I was young, as a means to curb social anxiety, but it is what it is.

When we listen to music as we walk or run, it sets the pace, it makes us happy, it distracts us from the slog of the jog. We are training our mind to let go of the boring or painful parts of an activity. Music, to many of us, becomes a focus. It is a meditative device.

As a yoga teacher in training, I take my playlist preparation seriously. Music isn’t required, but it certainly can compliment a yoga class, especially if you like to flow. It is an accompaniment.

Books about yoga, meditation, My yoga teacher said...

Not now

I learned something new today. A cue to get your mind off of something, whether you’re fixated on the seven minutes you will be late getting to a meeting, or you’re trying to meditate. Whenever you are wondering, worried, or find your mind wandering, say to yourself: “Not now.”

You are going to be late, whether you worry or not. Bring yourself back to calm. “Not now.

Often in yoga, we say to focus on your breath to clear the head. But sometimes this becomes an overthinking about the breath. Not now. Don’t think about that now.

The technique was written about in Meditations on Intention and Being, by Rolf Gates, and my mentor gets 100% of credit for introducing this to me by reading the passage at the end of class today.

About Savasana, meditation

About Savasana, pt. 1

As far as I can deduce, a typical yoga session boils down to three steps:

1. Breathing (Pranayama)

2. Movement or flow (Asana)

3. Rest and meditation (Savasana)
EDIT: this was originally a one-off post that evolved into a series about savasana. Read this, but read the retraction and further thoughts, too. 

There are infinite iterations of the above, and some days we focus on one or two of these things vs. the balance of the three, but we are always working up to Savasana.

Aka, “corpse pose.” This is where we seal in our practice. Empty the mind. Not focus. Personally, I don’t like the word corpse for this pose. Words I associate with corpse: heavy, end, final, haulted, bloated, decomposing, final, done.

In my mind, I call Savasana “float pose.” Like it sounds:

Shah – vah – sahn – ah
Words I associate with Savasana, or floating: light, free, flat, lifted, airy, clear, soft, open, beginning.

Perhaps this is a novice approach. Maybe I don’t understand Savasana. Maybe we all have a different understanding. In fact, some people skip Savasana altogether. I get it. That used to be me, spinning off and rushing to the next thing. But I embrace Savasana as the float. I’d rather start the next thing lifted, open, and light.

Living with intention, meditation, Mothering

In Medias Res

I have not posted in a number of days. I have written, I have practiced yoga, but I have not given myself the space to sit down and write something that is complete. 

Today, I am giving myself permission to write and post in medias res, “into the middle of things.” It will never be the beginning or the end for me. I am a parent, I am trying to make all the things happen all the time. So it’s ok if things are always in progress and under construction. 

We’ve had illness in our home, fevers and chills and things of that sort. As The Mom it is me that administers the medication, makes the matzo ball soup, takes the temperatures, and washes the sheets. Especially when my husband is one of the fevered and fallen. 

Now things are looking up. My daughter is back at school, my husband is back at work, the toddler (although teething) actually slept last night. And today I went to te advanced yoga class, so I’m taking five minutes to write before I go retrieve the toddler from the nursery, and on we go. 

Notes on today’s practice: today I made a point to set my intention before we began our flow. I set my intention on willpower. It was a sweaty, fast-paced class and I am feeling clear. Essential oils used during savasana: Orange and sandalwood. 

I would like to report back on how the willpower intention carried through the day… I hope I get to do so, but if not, well, here we go… 

meditation, Yoga to relieve stress

Loving Kindness Meditation

May you be safe and protected,
May you be healthy in body and mind,
May you be happy,
May you live in comfort, and in peace.

This is my simple Metta, or “Loving Kindness” meditation (LKM). I learned of LKM from a yoga teacher years ago, and it popped up in a mindfulness pregnancy app I used during one of my pregnancies throughout my infertility journey.* It is a highly effective meditation that has gotten me through some really tough times. In my experience, you can do this anywhere! While you’re in the shower, while the dental hygienist cleans your teeth, at the checkout line at the grocery store, as you fold the laundry, lying in bed and trying to sleep… no special prep or props required!

First, direct the phrases/thoughts/intentions at a pure loving person. Your child, the Dalai Lama, your best friend, your spouse… whoever warms you and fills your love cup.

Second, you direct the phrases/thoughts/intentions at a person you have difficulties with, or who needs these intentions. Or a people… this could be your partner, Syrian refugees, a friend with an illness, republicans… Someone that really needs love and kindness.

Third, direct the phrases/thoughts/intentions to yourself:

May I be safe and protected,
May I be healthy in body and mind,
May I be happy,
May I live in comfort and in peace.

Finally, direct them at all humankind:

May you be safe and protected,
May you be healthy in body and mind,
May you be happy,
May you live in comfort and in peace. 

Loving Kindness is one way I can get through the rough days. I hope it helps you, too.

  
* I will share details of my experience with secondary infertility… eventually.