Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Teachings and Tomato Plants

The past few weeks have brought some new challenges.  I was looking forward to a relaxing weekend of basking in the familiar and comfortable.  For a few reasons, and none so interesting or dramatic as to be worth sharing here, this did not happen.  I was a little put out about this until a few tomato plants in our garden set me straight.

You see, our tomato plants weren’t flowering.  Upon further research we realized that they were too content.  Too much nitrogen in the soil had squelched their desire to blossom.  They would have been happy continuing on the way they were forever.  Never producing their delicious fruit, just hanging out in garden box number two.  So we took away the nitrogen, trimmed back some of the lush foliage, and basically made their lives a bit more taxing to inspire their development.  As I trimmed, I wondered if the challenges I’ve been facing would inspire my own…..

A stretch of a metaphor?  Maybe, but it was too perfect and too plant-centric not to document on this plant based blog.  So, next time your life throws a curve ball, remember it might be encouraging you to blossom and produce something delicious beautiful.

For more ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

Sorry guys, but it’s for your own good.  I promise we will treat you to some more nitrogen real soon…..



Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Mindfulness Made Easy

The words “mindfulness practice” tend to conjure up visions of robed monks upon a mountain top in silent meditation.  Though that is one way to do it,  I’m assuming if you are reading this blog that isn’t your life (or if I am wrong and it is, that’s great!  Thanks for using what little internet access you have to read this post….).

A meditation practice is an amazing way to gradually train the brain towards calm and focus, but in the midst of day-to-day life there are plenty of quick ways to reconnect with your center.  The following are a few simple tricks to practice, no meditation cushion needed:

-Take a Deep Breath: We all find ourselves spinning out from time to time.  Situations we view as stressful excite the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system and can result in reactive behavior.  Simply taking a deep breath (or 10, or 15….) is a simple way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) before things spiral out of control.  This allows for access to conscious action instead of knee jerk reaction.

-Feel Your Feet on the Ground: Stress tends to sever the connection we have with our bodies and the earth.  If you’ve ever used the phrase “I’m too in my head!” you know what I mean.  When caught in a situation that makes you nervous, bring attention to feeling your feet on the ground.  It’s a quick way to reconnect to your body and will usually make you feel more grounded, both figuratively and literally.

-Tap it Out: Lightly tapping the area on the breastbone at the bottom of the neck, just below the hollow of the throat, is thought to stimulate the thymus gland.  When done consistently, it can promote strength and vitality and increase your overall sense of well being.  15-20 seconds a few times a day has been shown to be helpful in managing stress.

For more ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

T finding his center……


Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Balancing Effort and Ease

The balance of effort and ease is a common thread that runs through every mindfulness practice.  Whether you are in seated meditation or engrossed in a sweaty yoga class, practicing mindfulness can be akin to walking on the beach.

At first glance, a walk on the beach may seem easy.  Like you may remember from this post, walking on the beach can be relaxing but also requires a certain amount of effort.  It isn’t purely work, and it isn’t purely rest.  It’s a bit of both.

The same can be said for something like meditation.  There is effort in the discipline of simply showing up.  There is a certain amount of focus required.  Paradoxically, there is the invitation to let go and let be.

During a walk on the beach, your muscles are actually working pretty hard (and maybe very hard if you are chasing after a speedy toddler….).  Your senses, however, are otherwise engaged.  Beautiful sights and a sweet salty breeze dilute sensations of muscular strain.

Sustaining a tricky yoga pose can be a similar experience.  Your quads might be burning but by focusing on the breath simultaneously, a sense of relief diffuses the discomfort.

Picking up a mindfulness practice helps perception go from black and white, to shades of gray, and maybe even technicolor if we are lucky.  Opening to all the senses allows effort and ease to work in tandem, or maybe more accurately, awakens us to the fact that they always have been.

For more ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

Mere seconds after J snapped this photo, T took off like a lightning bolt…..
Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Mind the Second Arrow

The phrase “I feel (insert negative emotion here) about feeling (insert negative emotion here)” is used pretty often.  Despite that misleading first line, this post isn’t about Mad Libs (remember that fun little game from the 80’s?  Apparently they have an app now….).  Both in wellness pursuits and in general life, passing judgement on our own feelings is pretty common.

In Buddhism there is a parable and the teaching goes:

“If you get struck by an arrow, do you then shoot another arrow into yourself?”

Let that one sink in.  How many times do we pile pain on top of pain?

Next time you find yourself feeling bad about feeling bad, try the following:

-Take 5 slow, deep breaths and recognize what you are feeling.

-Bring awareness to your body and recognize physical sensations.

-Repeat until compassion and acceptance replace judgement and denial.

-Practice for a lifetime.

Don’t take it to heart if your way of thinking doesn’t change overnight.  And try not to pass judgement on yourself about passing judgement on your emotions.  Three arrows is too much for anyone to handle!

For more ideas head over to the Joyful Gym Rat page on Facebook!

I don’t have any pictures of T or Dee playing with arrows (thank goodness!) so here is a pretty one of T playing with a ball….


Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Mother’s Day Memories

Yesterday I tried to follow my own advice from last week’s post .  Today I share a post from Mother’s Day 2015 when I was pregnant with T.  To all the moms who were missing their babies yesterday, this one’s for you:

Mother’s Day…and More Yoga

If you had told me three years ago that I would be attending a monster truck show this past weekend, I probably would have called you crazy.  What a long strange trip it’s been.

“A Mother is not defined by the number of children you see, but by the love that she holds in her heart.” – Franchesca Cox

“They call him monster, monster truck, let them see how you roar.”  You may not recognize these lyrics, but to T this song is a classic…..