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Meditation — Yoga

Meditation Challenge: 40 Day Sadhana “Your Habits Define You”

Myself & the bump just completed our Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training with Semperviva Yoga guided by Teresa Campbell @lalupavia. To say we learned a lot is an understatement. Each yoga training completed has taken us on a journey which reveals what we need to work on to become the people we want to be for our family, community & workplace.

 

Self-discovery and self-development are not easy, its hard work and its supposed to be. To be the best version of yourself will take time and effort. True self-development doesn’t come from reading lots of books, it comes from doing the hard practices everyday no matter what life throws at you. A daily practice that you commit to for a period of time or for the rest of your life will change you.

 

For example, if you want to save more money, what can you do every day for the rest of your life to have more savings and live a financially secure life? Spend less and save more. Instead of buying that coffee every day or eating out every day, put that money into a savings account. Do this practice every day and see what awards you will have in just a few weeks.

 

The same goes for daily practices for the mind & soul. A daily practice like meditation can alter the way you think & feel. If you wake every morning and sit to do 10mins of mindful breathing you start your day relaxed, focused, in control and over time confident to deal with any situation. The reminder to come back to the breath will remain with you from your daily morning routine.

 

As part of our prenatal training we are required to complete a 40-day Sadhana which is a daily meditation practice for 40 days which you have a certain mantra to repeat for a set period of time. For example, your mantra maybe “I am strong”, “I am Confident”, “I am enough”, “I am a leader” …. for 11 minutes you repeat this mantra along with having the arms in an active position. This is a Kundalini yoga practice, there are many different arm positions for the meditations, look up Sadhana and find one that works for you.

 

For my 40-day Sadhana challenge I have chosen an Arc line meditation. The Arc line exists as a halo of energy, stretching from ear to ear over the crown of the head. Our Arc line is the connection to the Devine, when strong, the universe delivers. We strengthen the Arc line with committed, steady practice (sadhana). Having a strong Arc line gives us the presence and desire to serve humanity in action; it gives us balance in words & deed.

 

When weak, we are easily influenced by others, ineffective, inconsistent in mood and behaviour and unable to focus or manifest our goals. Arc lines are connected to our immune system. To remove any negative energy or subconscious garbage which has collected in our Arc line we need to practice to actively clear away the crap that gets stuck in this energy field. A daily practice for the Arc line is said to help clear away any past held onto negativity and make space for more clarity & true connection.

Apologies for bed head, I like to meditate first thing in the morning so hair is never brushed! lol!

Right now, I am on day 13 of the challenge. I play Waheguru by Nirinjan Kuar for 11 minutes with my arms overhead (see above) in a seated (non-moving) meditation. I record my meditations on Insight timer and Journal after each one. The arms are feeling it in the morning but I keep telling myself I know I can keep my arms up as I have done it multiple times already. When the mind starts to focus on the discomfort in my arms and shoulders I start to sing along with the mantra. Also I imagine others in far worse situations that they don’t have the privilege to change and I send positive thoughts to them, I sometimes imagine struggles animals go through to survive, I tell myself If these creatures can survive such struggle I can sit here with my arms up for 11 minutes. It’s a constant conversation with myself to tell my thinking mind I can do more, I am more…. this type of meditation builds up so much confidence for me personally. Being pregnant and having additional fears about pregnancy and labour this meditation is great to highlight how much further you can push yourself even when your mind is telling you to quit. Such a great confidence booster for everyone!

 

I will report back after the 40-day challenge is over, if you want to follow my daily process check out stories on our Instagram account back2basicsmovement. Watch this space everyone.

 

Not sure what the 40-days will bring but up for the challenge…. oh, and somewhere in there hopefully give birth to our little mini human;-)

 

Have a great week.

 

Thanks so much for reading,

 

Theresa Burns xxx

 

 

A Daily Meditation Practice: Make It Work For You

From trial and error over many years I have come to realize the success of a daily meditation practice for me is to be realistic. We would all love to meditate for an hour in the morning and an hour before bed but for the majority of us that is not possible. How much time can you spare and can you find a similar time of the day to practice meditation? Making the effort to carve out time for meditation is the first step. The next step is sticking to your commitment of time & place for your meditation. This is where you need to create a habit so like brushing your teeth in the morning, you do not pass a day without meditation.

For me the best time of day for meditation is first thing in the morning. I have set my alarm 15 minutes earlier in the morning to get up to meditate. I wake up, go to the washroom, put on an extra layer, drink lemon water, take out my meditation cushion, press start on my meditation timer and sit in silence for 10 minutes (additional 1 minute warm up to get settled). So why on earth do I get up earlier to meditate and not savour that extra 15min of extra sleep? Am I crazy? Possibly! The answer is I’m not sure. I was so close to googling why meditation is good and writing a paragraph about that to fill this paragraph with but let me try and figure out why I choose to wake up earlier to mediate and why you should too?

Is sleeping not better for me than waking up earlier to sit in stillness? This is a fair question since the majority of the population suffer from sleep disorders and don’t get enough sleep at night. However, sleeping and meditation are completely different and both bring amazing benefits and both are super important. If you are a person who doesn’t get enough hours of sleep at night, I would say don’t set your alarm 15minutes earlier to wake up for meditation, sleep and let your body recover. Choose a different time of the day to meditate, simple. On your lunch break, go find a quiet bench to sit on, an empty office to sit in, the restrooms to hide out in…. honestly anywhere you can find that you feel safe & at ease in. Don’t feel you need to sit on a meditation cushion, in yoga pants at 4:45am to mediate, you don’t.

Personally I don’t have an issue with sleeping which I am very grateful for and we go to bed early in our home, around 9:30 pm. Therefore, I get enough sleep so I can wake up 15minutes earlier to meditate. This routine works for me but find one that works for you, one is not better than the other. It really doesn’t matter when, where and what you are wearing, just take 10minutes to focus the mind to meditate.

So, what is meditation? Again, the temptation to google is there but I will answer from a personal place. For me meditation is a very active practice. From the outside you may look like still with very little movement but on the inside the mind is extremely active. The practice is to bring that outward stillness into the mind. The mind or our thoughts have an innate tendency to wander, flow, distract and go nuts when you bring your body to sit in stillness. In truth your mind is always going but it becomes really apparent how crazy your thoughts are when you sit still and bring your attention to them. The aim of meditation for me is to become aware of my thoughts, notice where my thoughts lead and bring them back to a still point by focusing on my breath, the inhale & exhale through an open mouth a focal point to help focus & control the crazy spiralling of my thoughts.

Focusing solely on your breath for the first few breaths can be easy, however without even knowing it the mind wanders off to past or future thoughts and the breath is lost. The kind of exercises I like to do to help focus my mind is to focus my attention between my eyes to my inner eye, this really helps me for some reason, it’s like a pause button until I get distracted by my thoughts again and I need to repeat the process. Another one I like is to whisper silently in a kind way to myself that I am thinking and to bring my attention back to a focal point, sometimes I like that point to be my belly. A great way to help focus the mind and distract yourself from your thoughts is to count to 10 and repeat. You won’t believe how hard this is, I have found myself almost at 50 before noticing I wasn’t paying attention. When you notice you are not paying attention you start back at 0.

So why meditate? Meditation is getting a lot of media attention lately which is awesome, most of us know the benefits of it already. Even 1 minute of meditation is supposed to be beneficial to our mental health. Again, I will speak from a personal experience. Why I mediate is for the mental challenge it provides every morning. I know challenging to still my mind helps me cope with life after those ten minutes. It helps me think clearer, pause before I react (this doesn’t happen all the time but I notice an improvement), it helps me listen more as I am not afraid to sit in silence, it helps me in awkward silent situations and not feel awkward, it helps me sit in a restaurant by myself and just sit there without having to pull out my iPhone to distract me from the silence or loneliness, it helps me feel comfortable in my own skin, it helps me cope in times of stress, it helps me relax and ease into my day, it provides clarity and helps me be present in moments that I really want to be present in and fully aware.

There are many scientific reasons why meditation is great and I am sure I am benefiting from so much more but these are the reasons why I keep meditating every morning. I see an improvement in my life and how I look at life in general, I have learned to separate the unimportant from the important (can still mess up of course) and I truly believe it is those 10minutes every morning that help clear space in my head for what’s important, stillness, awareness, knowing who you are and being present in this life and taking control of your life to live the way you choose. All that from 10 minutes a day. Try it and see how it transforms you. It’s not all hype, find a time that works for you and just do it.

 

Thank so much,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa x

Ssssssshhhhh……The Power of Silence

“Seldom do those who are silent make mistakes.”

It was by accident that I ended up writing this blog in O Five Tea Bar on Fourth Ave. It is a fitting setting as the other customers are either silently working or silently reading. The staff too, go about their business with the quiet diligence of monks.

Silence can come in many forms, it can be deep and oppressive, it can be heavy like a thick, dark blanket, it can be thin and unwholesome like the silence of a lie or the silence of inaction. It can also be strong and true, like it is in here right now, like it is after a strong Om or like a winter forest when the snow settles on the world to give it the perfect finishing touch.

Some things are best enjoyed in silence, like the tea I am drinking. You almost need the quiet to fully understand it, to fully appreciate it, as if the flavour whispers and it will disappear into the background unless you listen carefully.

I read a blog recently about a lady who managed to get a private audience with the successor to the Dalai Lama. He asked her if she had specific questions. She did not and so they remained in each others company and enjoyed the silence. It was a silence which required nothing else. There was no need to break it with mindless chatter. They shared the silence.

Silence encourages stillness. I am almost afraid to pour my tea too quickly for fear of adding an unwanted flavour to the quiet of the room. As if a movement too vigorous will create a ripple which will disturb the stillness.

Some of us are afraid of silence. We step into an elevator with somebody and take out our phone rather than share the silence. We plug in to the screen, the earphones, the podcast, the music, whatever it is, we use it as an exit system to flee the quiet stillness and rush out into the lights and sound, embracing it with open arms, wishing to be swallowed up by sound and colour.

It distracts us from our discomfort but there is no strength without discomfort. We put on a soundtrack that drowns out the whisper that tells us “something is wrong.” We don’t listen to the small voice inside us. We don’t get to know ourselves, like the parent who tells the small child to be quiet and behave, but the child is scared. The parent does not know because the soundtrack is too loud.

How many times when you were in school did your teacher tell you to “pay attention”? How can we pay attention when we do not know how too? We have never been thought these skills yet we are expected to have them, even though these abilities are being pushed further and further away from us every day.

A friend of mine once said, that if he had the opportunity to do anything in the world without the chance of failure, he would change the world. As Leo Tolstoy says “Everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing themselves.” “Change yourself”, according to Nick Seaver’s TedTALK, “and you will change the world.” We are our own environment. Change ourselves and we change our environment.

Become still and let the mind settle, like the white powder flying about a snow globe.

Falling leaves in autumn, finding stillness.

That is where we learn to pay attention. There is power in silence, the power to learn, the power to forgive, the power to change the world. Change yourself and you will change the world.

How many earth shattering decisions were made on a whim, thrust out from a blinding flash of anger rather than forged with patience from a still mind.

Viktor Frankl‘s life was ruined in Nazi Germany, his family killed, his dignity stripped. He felt the emotions but he did not fall into them. “Between stimulus and response,” he said, “there is a space. In that space is our power to chose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” What Frankl describes is the power to change the world. This power lies in the pause, the silence. The power lies in the gap before stepping forward. The bridge in the road, before continuing the journey.

This is the power of silence. The power to change yourself and in turn the power to create a change greater than any of us have known.

This will open our minds to let us hear the undercurrent that tells us where we need to be. The candle light in Time Square is drowned out by flashing neon lights but it is still there. We just need to find it.

Through silence we can chip away at the surface and find our true selves. The reactive self is not the real self. The true self or the soul, as I like to think of it, is underneath and cannot be seen because the reactive self has encompassed it. Take the time, take the pause. Step away and listen.

John Francis spoke about his 17 years of silence in his TedTalk and it was on the Ted radio hour where I heard him say it was only after months of not speaking, that his mind began to settle. The waves took many months to settle after the storm.

It is ok to stop. We do not always need to move. We do not always need to fill the space. The sound of om consists of four parts, the final part being the silence.

In conclusion, I would like to encourage you all to sit in silence. Start small but be consistent. Invite the silence into your life like an old friend and see what stories it will tell you.

“Don’t just do something, sit there.”

I hope you enjoyed reading this one. If you did, please share it.

Peace,

George

We’ve Got Soul

I have often wondered about this soul. What is it? Does it exist? Do I have one? Do you have one? Do you believe in the soul?

I think the soul is what it all boils down to. I believe the soul is the true self.

In his book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle talks a lot about the busy mind, all the chatter that is constantly playing out in your head. The internal dialogue, the judgment, the thoughts, the wanting, the fear – the list goes on. Tolle describes this chatter as a sickness and talks about coming into the present moment and quieting the thoughts.

The present moment with a quiet mind, in my opinion, is when you find your true self. Your soul.

I am not talking about a static mind, but one which is at peace with itself in a way that a person knows who they truly are.

It’s like an artist chipping away at a block to reveal the true piece of art in inside. The artist is you. The masterpiece is your soul and your tools are right there at your disposal. Honesty, humility, breath, meditation, exercise, stillness, nature, sight, sound, color, touch, feeling, sharing, again – I could go on. The tools are anything that allows your mind to become still. Like training a muscle, the more time spent with the mind at ease, the more we chip away at the fluff that surrounds ourselves and our personality.

I have noticed that I behave differently depending on who I am with and on the situation I am in. Sometimes I wonder which one is the real me, or at least which one is the best representation of the type of person I am. The more I practice meditation and yoga and get into the mountains away from distractions of everyday life, the more I can see myself for who I am, and who I want to be. The better I can see my soul.



Hindsight is a great thing. It amazes me how suddenly it creeps up on a person bringing with it revelations about the past. Things I did, people I treated badly. Years after, the wrong I did came to me all of a sudden. Maybe, back then I carried too much. Maybe I carried so much crap in my mind that I couldn’t see clearly. Over the years did I peel away some of the layers so I could see more of what is around me but also what is inside of me? Did I get closer to the real me? My soul?

Everybody has a true self. But not everybody’s true self is revealed, even to themselves. I have not found my soul and may never find it, but I hope that each day I can get a little closer to my true nature and that whatever I do find, I hope it can be positive and make up for the foolish things I have done in the past.

I would like to go into this topic on a deeper level sometime in the future but for now I wish you happy soul searching. Remember there are no lost souls. It is right there inside you. It is just a question of how deep it is buried.

Thanks,

George

Meditation: It takes Two Minutes

This morning I pondered the topic of my next blog, I thought about what is important to me. What goes hand-in-hand with my everyday life, a constant part of my life, a permanent part of my daily routine? One constant for me every morning to start my day is meditation.

Recently I spoke to a good friend of mine. He had many stresses in his life at that time and needed to vent and get it off his chest. It is, we assume beneficial to talk about your problems, essential to let them out. It is part of the process of dealing with them. It is also, in my opinion a reactive part of the process. What I mean by this is that you don’t talk about your problems until they arise. You can’t. It is part of the process, therefore discussing a problem, while being an essential method of dealing with it, is a direct reaction to the problem.

What can we do before the problems arise? I don’t mean worst-case scenario – building a bunker for doomsday style preparation. I mean preparation of the mind. Maintenance of the mind. Taking stock of where we are every day. Noticing how we feel and accepting it.

In western culture we go to the doctor when we are sick. In eastern culture people visit the doctor for a regular maintenance of the body throughout the year whether they are sick or not. The same is required for the mind.

Over a period of a couple of months, I visited a therapist to discuss my anger issues. His idea was that I continue to see him over a long period for general maintenance and upkeep of the mind. I didn’t. I found meditation instead, combined with yoga and fresh air. I’m not speaking to or against working with a therapist. It just wasn’t my path, but regular meditation is my path. Regularly pausing to take stock of my state of mind and emotions or even just pausing to be still with current conditions.



I asked my friend if he had tried meditation. He had not, his answer being “I am not a meditation kind of person.” Some people are not at a stage in their lives that they are willing to try these “Jedi mind tricks.” Some people will never be open to it. But, I urge everybody who reads this, even if it’s not your thing, even if you are not a meditation kind of person – try it anyway. See what happens. There is nothing to lose. There is everything to gain.

Sanity, peace of mind, silence, time, energy…… Everything.

“I don’t have time to meditate,” people might say. There is always time. Granted, maybe you don’t have time to sit on a meditation cushion for twenty minutes a day, but take two minutes on a bus or train, in the morning if you get up a few minutes earlier, before bed, take two minutes and sit in stillness and silence. Notice the breath and notice the thoughts that arise.

Do this consistently for a month and see where it takes you. I am convinced it will make a difference. Start small but be consistent. Consistency is the most important thing. Consistency is where the power is.

Maybe after a month you will be comfortable enough to bump it up to five minutes, ten minutes or whatever. I generally get the most benefit out of my meditation session after the ten minute mark when I’m really settled into it, so I try to consistently go for a 20 minute session.

After trying it for a month, if it is something you feel you wish to continue, you may want to check out Insight Timer a free app but lots of guided meditations. Headspace is also a great place to start. For my own personal meditation I usually like to sit tall and comfortable on a cushion, cover my eyes and wear noise canceling headphones. I breathe and empty my mind, or at least try to. I am usually free of thoughts for more no more than a few seconds at a time, but the key is to notice when the mind wanders. A useful method is to count to ten with each breath. Start again from the beginning when you reach ten or when you find your mind has wandered.

I would love to hear your feedback and experiences from your meditation journey. For me, it got me through the most difficult time of my life.

So, if you don’t meditate, give it a go. Two minutes, five minutes, whatever works, but to be consistent and remember – we are all meditation kind of people, we just need to be open to sitting still for a few minutes.

Peace

George