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…..
Mindfulness Monday

Mindfulness Monday: Mixed Feelings and Mother’s Day

Though Hallmark might have you believe differently, Mother’s Day hasn’t always been all sunshine and roses.  In fact, Mother’s Day initially began as a day on which the grieving mothers of fallen soldiers remembered their sons and promoted peace.  For anyone approaching the upcoming holiday with mixed emotions, you are not alone.

This past Sunday marked the 8th International Bereaved Mother’s Day.  The creator of this holiday recognized that mothers of children who had died were generally left out of the festivities surrounding Mother’s Day.  Her hope was to bring awareness to this fact so eventually a separate holiday would no longer be necessary.

Children whose mothers have died are also likely to feel conflicted.  Celebrating those who are with us while honoring those who are gone can be a delicate balance.

The following are a few points to consider if you need a little extra support this Mother’s Day:

-How Can We All Get Our Needs Met?: If you have a family this certainly isn’t a new question, but it’s an especially important one around Mother’s Day.  Having family usually means there are several people to celebrate or memorialize.  Simply asking this question can help separate the “must-dos” from the “should-dos”.  Allowing top priorities to take precedence while letting the rest fall away can feel very freeing.

-Acknowledge That Things Will Be Different: Acknowledging things will be different doesn’t mean liking that things will be different.  With the passing of time, many holidays go from 3D to 5D in terms of emotional complexity.  Being open to the shifts that occur over time can be less taxing than grasping onto the way your mind thinks things “should be”.

-Treat Yo’ Self: Carving out a little time to do something for yourself can go a long way towards healing around this holiday.  Depending on where you are on the topsy turvy trail that is grief, this can range from something that simply gets you through the day to something that truly brings you joy.  Releasing expectations on how you “should feel” doing said activity can help abate unnecessary pressure.

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

Mementos of our little girl….