Practices

Michelle Noehren: What I Know About Motherhood Now That I Practice Meditation

Nine months ago a seed was planted. Ok people, not THAT kind of seed. I didn’t do any baby making, but I did start a journey that has changed my life for the better, similar to how becoming a mom made me see the world a bit differently.

Back in September of 2012 I took my first meditation class at a local center in my town. I’d always been intrigued by meditation but was nervous to take the first step and attend class. Turns out there was not a single thing to be nervous about considering every person I have met that practices meditation is incredibly welcoming and nice.

The type of meditation that I practice isn’t just breathing meditation, it’s contemplative too. Over the past nine months I’ve thought a lot about how my state of mind at any given point impacts how I see the world. I’ve meditated on how dangerous anger can be, how the most important thing I can do is to show others kindness (even those who provoke and challenge me) and I have increased the depth of my compassion for others.

I’ve experienced a dramatic drop in my anxiety level and I feel like I’ve healed some relationships in my life that were difficult, not because the other person changed anything, but because I now fully understand that I have the ability to change situations solely based upon the way I think. Powerful stuff peeps!

Naturally, practicing meditation has impacted how I parent my 2-year-old daughter. Here are a just a few of the revelations I’ve had since beginning my practice.

I have a lot more patience than I thought.

Mom, if you’re reading this, pick your jaw up off the floor. This has been a surprising revelation. I have not been known within my family as someone who has a lot of patience but I’ve found that meditation really helps me stay in the now (as cliché as that term is). Most of the time I’m able to resist getting agitated when my toddler doesn’t do what I ask, throws a tantrum or doesn’t want to eat dinner. Taking the time to breathe and remember that my goal is to be kind in all of my interactions, including with my little girl, helps me show more patience instead of just getting immediately upset. As a wonderful consequence, I don’t yell anymore.

I’m not perfect, and that’s ok.

And that brings me to this little revelation; it’s ok to not be perfect. I sometimes refer to myself as a recovering perfectionist. Before meditation, if I felt like something wasn’t done to my very high standards I had to fix it immediately (including craft projects with my kid) or I would have a high level of anxiety. What I now understand is that my thoughts create my world and as I am moving towards a more peaceful state of mind, I don’t really care if my daughter rips a hole in the project we’re working on — I’ll just tape it up and move on (as opposed to throwing it out and starting again!). I have a more relaxed attitude about some things but admit that it’s hard to shake my perfectionist tendencies. Just part of the journey, I suppose.

I am not my body

Ah yes! You know those stretch marks on my stomach and the baby weight I haven’t lost yet? Guess what? That doesn’t define me! Because I’m not my body, I’m more than my body and you are too. How liberating is that? Thank you meditation!

Pre-baby I was more judgmental than I ever imagined.

Before I became a mom I use to judge other parents (I hate to admit that but it’s true). I didn’t realize just how judgy I was until I had my own kid who doesn’t always act like a perfect little angel. Just the act of becoming a mom helped me reduce my judginess but meditation has opened my eyes to the importance of universal compassion. The truth is we don’t really know what’s in anyone else’s mind other than our own and judging others makes it hard to feel kindness and love for them. And as I stated above, showing kindness to people is one of the most important things in life.

Just like meditation, parenting takes perseverance.

With meditation, it takes time to fully reap the benefits. You have to (gently) keep at it, doing your best to put the meditations into practice in daily life. Motherhood is just like that. We just have to keep plugging along, doing our best each day with faith that our efforts will pay off in the long run.

From my meditation cushion to you, keep calm and mother on.

via Michelle Noehren: What I Know About Motherhood Now That I Practice Meditation.

 

Meditation classes calming young minds | Illawarra Mercury

There seems to be a misconception that kids have it easy.

While they might not be worried about work or money, there are plenty of other things that can stress them out – relationships with their friends, bullying, school work and family issues are high up on the list of things children worry about.

Which is where meditation comes in.

It can help kids find a calm place when they feel anxious and help them to become peaceful after spending an afternoon running around the playground.

Lyn-Maree Fredericks started taking her two daughters to a children’s meditation class 18 months ago, after they started asking questions about her own meditation practices.

Although her eldest daughter no longer attends the classes, she still meditates regularly at home to overcome stress around school, while her nine-year-old daughter Jessie still loves meditating with her friends every Tuesday afternoon.

“Jessie is in tune with the relaxation side of it. I find the conversations I have with her leaving here are usually very clear, like she can go in concerned with what’s happened at school but come out quite bubbly and relaxed,” Fredericks says.

“She seems to find clarity with life. It means she is clearer in the things she wants to do.”

Jessie says she uses meditation to deal with things she worries about at school and to help calm her mind before she falls asleep.

“I like it because it’s fun and very relaxing to do. I like doing the guided meditation the most. Sometimes it’s hard to do just on your own.”

“I do it at night because it helps me get to sleep and with school and calming down with tests that might be coming up.”

Ursula Laughton runs a children’s meditation class and says most kids tell her it assists them when they are feeling anxious about something at school.

“There’s always pressures, even from age five they’ve already started school, and there’s expectations and responsibilities that they have to experience and deal with everyday, so taking this time out, they get the opportunity to be themselves, reflect on what they need and get to know themselves more,” she says.

“I’ve had comments about children being able to go to school more at ease, relating with their peers with more confidence.”

The difference between teaching a child and an adult how to meditate is the level of intellectual engagement they have with the process.

A typical meditation class begins with the children expressing something they are grateful for, followed by some stretches and breathing exercises to calm them down. Laughton then guides her students through some relaxation exercises before taking them into their imagination using visualisation, which lasts between five and 10 minutes depending how old the children are.

via Meditation classes calming young minds | Illawarra Mercury.

 

Mary Pritchard: But I Don’t Have Time to Meditate

Yes, you do. Time isn’t the issue; it’s priority, and specifically prioritizing yourself. I learned this the hard way this past week.

For those of you on an academic schedule, you know that once spring break is over, crunch time begins. The first thing that usually goes for me during crunch time is any type of self-care. Keep in mind that I know I need my daily meditation and yoga to be able to do what I do effectively. Doesn’t matter. I think to myself, “It will free up so much time if I just give up ______.” In reality, it won’t.

Without my yoga and meditation, I become a tense, anxiety-prone mess. I get cranky. I don’t sleep as well because I spend more time at night worrying, which only perpetuates the problem. So all the time I “saved” turns into time burned, wasted doing something completely non-productive, like worrying and list making.

Ah yes, I am the queen of list making. You might think, “List making is good, right? It helps you prioritize what you need to do.” Sadly, no. List making, for me, only leads to more list making as I start putting stupid things down that really don’t need to be listed like “brush my teeth,” “check my email,” or “go to work.” Duh! Those are things I’d be doing anyway. And when I put something really important for my mental health on my list like “meditate,” I ignore it and keep on jotting things down that I should be doing that either aren’t important or I would do them anyway with or without the list reminder.

So let’s talk priorities. To make meditation and yoga part of my day, I have come to realize that I need to do three things:

1) Figure out why it’s so important that I meditate. (Hint: It can’t be “because I should.” That never works.) It should be a personal reason for you that you know without a doubt to be true. Something like, “I’m calmer,” “I make better decisions,” or “I sleep better.”

2) Put it in your schedule — pretend meditation/yoga/exercise/whatever your self-care thing is is a very important doctor’s appointment or meeting at work. Something you know you would never make an excuse to miss. Treat it like that appointment. Make it sacred. And be specific: When are you going to do it? For how long? Another tip: Start small. If you haven’t been taking care of yourself for a while, saying you are going to devote an hour a day to meditate is not realistic. Start with five minutes or one minute or six breaths. Once you can do that, start upping the time gradually. The last time I fell off the meditation wagon, I restarted at five minutes. I was up to 16.5 minutes when I fell off the wagon last week. Will I start back at five minutes? Probably not. As it’s only been a week, 10-15 min is feasible for me. But start where you are, and if where you are is nowhere then start with 30 seconds or one minute — whatever you think you actually can make time to do on a consistent basis.

3) Have a Plan B — I know exactly why I stopped meditating. I had figured out for myself that the very best time for me to meditate was first thing in the morning before anyone else in my house got up. Then one morning my husband was up before I was. There went my morning meditation. Then it happened again. Pretty soon an entire week had gone by and I only meditated once. Can I blame my husband for disrupting my schedule? No. That only happened on those two occasions anyway. Besides, it wasn’t his fault that he couldn’t sleep; it was my fault for not having a Plan B. So here’s the thing. Life happens. Sometimes Plan A will fail, and if you don’t have a Plan B, you will likely fall off the track. So my new Plan B: My Plan A still holds. My meditation will occur first thing in the morning while everyone else is still in bed, but if for some reason that does not happen, I will immediately reschedule my meditation — preferably for some time during that same day: at lunch, right before dinner, or at bedtime. I will allow myself to shorten the duration if need be. Five minutes is better than no minutes, but I will do it.

Okay, moral of the story: You’ve got to make time for yourself — preferably every day — to do something that refreshes you, centers you, and keeps you grounded. For me that something is meditation. It might be something else for you. That’s okay. The point is: You need to figure out what it is and why you’re doing it, and then schedule it in. Right now. That’s right, take your planner out and schedule it in just like you would a doctor’s appointment. Vow to honor that time you’ve set aside for yourself. If life happens (which it sometimes will), that’s okay, but immediately reschedule your self-care appointment. Otherwise we both know what will happen: It won’t.

For more by Mary Pritchard, Ph.D., click here.

For more on meditation, click here.

via Mary Pritchard: But I Don’t Have Time to Meditate.

Rebecca Lammersen: Silencing the Myth of Meditation: You Don’t Have to Sit Still to Be Present

“I can do this. Just 20 minutes. Just sit still. My shoulder itches. Stop thinking about it! My foot is falling asleep, almost numb. The numbness is always the opening act for the pins and needles. That would be a good name for a band, The Pins and Needles, and here they come, singing right up my leg. I’ve never been able to decide whether moving helps them go away faster or just makes it worse. I think I should go get more yogurt cups for the girls at Trader Joe’s. Oh, and I need more apples too. Okay, my shoulder really itches now, I’ve got to itch it. Just breathe a little longer. Speaking of, how long has it been? Don’t look, don’t do it!”

I peel my upper lid from my lower lid, just enough so no one will notice, even though the only living creature nearby is a quail squatting outside my door, and I doubt he can see past his beak.

“Really? It’s only been two minutes? Who am I meditating for? Why would I care if someone sees me open my eyes? I feel defeated. I can’t even sit for two minutes without a full chorus of complaints and to-dos.”

This is how it used to be.

For 10 years, I struggled my way through every meditation. I had the desire and the discipline, yet I couldn’t seem to be anywhere, but elsewhere.

A few years ago, I began asking the question, Why? Why do I meditate? and Why can’t I meditate? From the why came the how: How do I meditate?

Meditation is a science — the science of understanding the pathways of the brain and how they react to different situations, experiences and stimuli. Through this understanding, we can learn how to respond to these reactions and train the brain to focus.

Before we can have a purposeful meditation and yoga practice, we must first become a scientist fluent in the physics of the practice. It is impossible to bepresent in stillness for any amount of time without knowing how our brain functions.

Until we aquire this knowledge, sitting is ineffective — a waste of time, and detrimental to our well being due to the unnecessary pressure and expectation that breeds from our naiveté.

“Practice and all is coming.”

These are the wise words of the late Pattabhi Jois, the master of Ashtanga. I agree, as long as there is a method to the practice and guidance of the method.

Practice may bring a mastery that mimics perfection, but practice also creates suffering if one does not know what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Attempting to sit in meditation without learned technique is comparable to placing a 2-year-old on the floor of the NYSE and expecting him to navigate the system on his own while conducting the trades for the day.

Chaos amidst chaos. Chaos causes more chaos. My favorite description of enlightenment is, “Enlightenment is learning not to make more struggle of the existing struggle.”

In this situation, not making more struggle would be grooming and teaching a person how to traverse the trading floor with grace, discerning the viable trades within the noise and creating a profit.

Meditation is the same. We learn how the brain operates, cultivating the tools to manage it, before we sit down to listen to it. The profit bestowed to an educated meditator is a contented life, with an abundance of efficiency, discernment and intention. We respond more and react less, because we (the mind) have learned how to direct the brain as it keeps the trading floor open all day, every day.

The brain is the NYSE, the mind is the trader.

The brain and the mind are two separate parts, as are the spirit and the soul. In order for them to work synergistically, they must be studied separately, understood individually and then, connected together.

Before we can be present in stillness, we may want to learn how to be present in action.

The other day, a woman approached me, and in one stressed breath she asked: “My friend told me you are a yoga teacher, and I’ve always wanted to meditate and be present, and I just want to learn how, how can I meditate?”

I asked, “You probably already do and you don’t even know it. What do you love to do that calms you?”

Her face relaxed and she replied quietly, “I like to run. I can hear myself breathe. I feel my feet and I notice my surroundings.”

“So you see? You already meditate. Just do it more, in other facets of your life. Turn any chore or repetitive action into a sensory overload, and see if you can separate each sense from the other. For example, when I vacuum, I am only vacuuming. I pay attention to the feel of the handle in my hand. The vibration and hum as I turn it on, how the vacuum resists as it stumbles across a crumb on the carpet, and the sound of the crumb as it is chewed inside the canister.

“I am completely there, in the experience, hearing, feeling, seeing — sensing. I am fixating my brain on a task as my mind remains concentrated in the experience. I extract myself from my surroundings, so that I may be in it, being in it, is being present.”

Her response began with a sigh of relief. “Oh my gosh, I can totally do that.”

“Yes you can,” I encouraged.

The “how to” begins with attention — paying attention and educating ourselves about the mechanics of the brain. That’s it.

Before we can sit still and meditate like a monk in a Nepalese cave, we need to learn how bathe within ourselves, in the active moment, without thinking of the next action.

This is presence, being present and I think it may even be a little something “they” like to call enlightenment.

Rebecca Lammersen: Silencing the Myth of Meditation: You Don’t Have to Sit Still to Be Present.

 

Meditation as Art: “The Sacred Shadow Self” – Creating Sacred Space – Sketches

Here are the final architectural sketches for The Sacred Shadow Self light and shadow installation June 2013 at Mind Unwind Gallery:

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See how it turns out at Mind Unwind this June!

Part of my great joy in making art is seeing how ideas end up manifesting as they change and adapt to different circumstances. Hope you’ll come play with your sacred shadow self!

-Karah Pino, MAcOM, Artist

media: paper, light, refractions and shadows 

performance: mindfulness, qigong, yoga, chanting, singing bowls,

and other meditative arts

“The Sacred Shadow Self” is an interactive art installation including live meditation performances opening June 2013 at Mind Unwind Gallery ~ West Seattle.

~Still looking for QiGong, Yoga and other Meditation Performers!!~

To join in meditation, please fill out the form at the end of the Artist Statement.

“We are all a precious child of creator and as such our shadow is also a sacred part of our selves as the precious children of the holy people our ancestors in the context of the natural order in the universe.” 

Patricia Anne Davis, Navajo Wisdom Keeper

Gabrielle Bernstein: A Meditation for Manifesting

In this video I teach a Kundalini meditation called “Purify the Subtle Body.” The subtle body is the part of us that calls in opportunities, brings us good news and attracts positivity toward us. This meditation strengthens your energy field so that you become a magnet for miracles. Practicing this meditation will make you shine bright and deepen your connection to the universe.

In the video I break down the meditation and guide you along with the music. For further clarification, please see the instructions below. If you have a shoulder issue and cannot lift your arms overhead, simply envision yourself doing the exercise and you’ll receive the same benefit from the meditation. Feel free to leave questions or remarks in the comments below.
Mudra: Sitting in easy pose (cross-legged) with a straight spine, place the arms down by the sides, backs of the palms on the ground next to the sides of the body.

Movement: As you inhale, raise the arms over the head, until the two palms overlap a few inches above the your head (known as the tenth gate). The right hand will be a few inches above the head. The left palm will lie flat on top of the back of the right hand. The thumbs do NOT touch. (Note: Yogi Bhajan very specifically keeps the thumbs separated when the hands overlap over the top of the head.)

Breath: Make your mouth into an “O.” Inhale through the “O” as you raise the arms over the head, and exhale through the “O” as you lower the hands back down to the ground.

Chant: The “Tantric Har” music, which is played in the video. On the first “Har” raise your arms up. On the second “Har” your arms go down. Continue in this rhythmic movement. Pull in on the navel and the diaphragm as you do the movement.

Time: If you’re new to Kundalini meditation, begin with three minutes. If you want to go big, then practice this meditation for 11 minutes a day.

End: Inhale deeply. Immediately interlace the hands over the head, elbows straight, and begin to deeply stretch the body right to left, and left to right, without letting go of the hands.

Continue as you hold the breath for 15 seconds. Exhale. Repeat three times total. Relax.

Gabrielle Bernstein: A Meditation for Manifesting.

 

B.R.E.A.T.H.E: The Neuroscience of Breathing Techniques TED talk

This is an extra long TED talk by Neuroscientist Alan Watkins talking about how to “Be Brilliant Every Single Day”.

In the second half he talks about how breathing techniques work physiologically.  He mentions that there are 12 different ways that the breath can be adjusted, but only talked about the most important three:

  1. Rhythmically
  2. Smoothly
  3. Location of the focus during the breath (in the center of the chest)

To remember this, Dr Watkins uses the acronym B.R.E.A.T.H.E:

  • Breathe
  • Regularly
  • Through the
  • Heart
  • Everyday

He also shows a graph which describes two variances of experience, one being the Sympathetic (flight/fight) neurological pattern and the Parasympathetic (rest/digest) pattern.  His explanation about how where we are on that trajectory is less important than the Negative (cortisol driven) emotional system vs. the Positive (DHEA driven) emotional system trajectory was quite fascinating.

He explains that we can use breathing techniques to bring us to the center of the Negative/Positive Emotional system, but that to be optimal we need to be able to regulate our emotional state and stay in the positive.  This makes sense to me as a meditation instructor because the breathing techniques are so often used in conjunction with deeper emotionally based meditation techniques such as METTA meditation, Tonglen and other methods of training ourselves to emote love and peace.

Download a free Meditation Track from Unwind your Mind here.

Oprah and Deepak: 21 day meditation challenge – and it’s free | Montreal Gazette

Oprah and Deepak Chopra are teaming up for a 21 day meditation challenge which begins Monday, March 11th.

As the Divine Ms. O says “Stillness is the space where all creative expression, peace, and love abide.”

Couldn’t agree more.

If you’ve been thinking about  learning how to be still, (believe me, it’s not as easy as you might think!) now’s your time to try – and it’s free!

Click here to register.

http://goo.gl/V5RfN

Oprah and Deepak: 21 day meditation challenge – and it’s free | Montreal Gazette.

 

Unwind your Mind at the UW in 2013 – Only 1 class on campus winter quarter!

Techniques to help clear and open your mind.

Unwind your Mind Meditation CD

Meditation Instruction CD

Practice watching thoughts and feelings like children on the playground of your imagination. This 3 hour intensive is chock full of tips for beginning a meditation practice. Gain a quick overview of different kinds of meditation practices so that you can discover for yourself the benefits of meditation and choose the style best suited to you.

Can’t make it to a class?  A CD is now available, over an hour of  instruction and guided meditation!  Order today!

For more info, please visit http://www.karahpino.me/meditation. On UW Campus.

Wed 6:30pm-9:30pm 02/13 Register Today!

The “best” meditation is what works for you! by Karah Pino, MAcOM

The results of a research study from San Francisco State University came out in July of 2012 that asked the question: “What is the best meditation?”

Meditation practitioners around the world would say: “The meditation I do!”  and as it turns out, the research shows that it is absolutely true!

The study followed people who learned different styles of meditation and tracked the effectiveness of the meditation program.  What was shown is that those who learned a style that suited them tended to follow up with their practice better than those that didn’t particularly like the style they were taught.  But the results of the different styles were equally effective, so long as they were practiced regularly. This confirmed what I had noticed for my students over the years.  Any technique will help you deal with stress to improve your health,  smooth your relationships, and help you enjoy your life.

“A new study just published notes the importance of selecting a meditation method that is most comfortable to the new meditator, not the one that is currently the most popular. Choosing the one you are most comfortable with increases the likelihood that you will stick with it, says Adam Burke, the author of the study and a professor of health education at San Francisco State University.”Read More

Helping people find a style that works for them is the goal of the Unwind your Mind curriculum.

Unwind your Mind Meditation CD

Meditation Instruction CD

This class is designed to give an overview of the types of different techniques to people newly interested in meditation.  The four categories of meditation techniques are: Mindfulness, Visualization techniques, Sound techniques and Movement techniques.  The types of techniques introduced in the three hour class include breathing techniques, guided meditation, chanting, self observation and QiGong.

To take this class or purchase the CD, please visit: MindUnwind.org/Meditation

mommy-and-alvin-sqKarah Pino, MAcOM has a master’s degree in Acupunture and Chinese medicine including meditation techniques for healing.  She is a meditation instructor at the University of Washington Experimental College and Mind Unwind Gallery.  Courses are offered regularly in Seattle, WA on on retreats offered through Mind Unwind.