A Meditation Narration

I walk about a mile total from my car to work every day (unless it’s monsoon season, which hey funny fact – it actually is right now in the DC metro area). I try and meditate and practice mindfulness as I make this walk. Here is my narration:

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Gather your things mindfully. One at a time, remembering not to rush, remembering not to forget anything, remembering that the end of your day is finally here but you shouldn’t run into it.

Walk out through the door and leave the stuffy, closed in feel of the office. Take a deep inhale breath in and let the crisp outside air fill your nostrils, chest, and lungs. Breathe it out as a full sigh of relief, out through your mouth. Release all the tensions and feel your shoulders move away from your ears and down your back as you purposefully put one foot in front of the other to lead you on your path to your safe haven.

Focus on the feel of your feet on the ground. Grounded, you are grounded. Here and now moving in this powerful, strong body that is yours.

With every “in” breath, lift your gaze to appreciate the life around you. The leaves acting as carpeting on the dirt path, the chipmunks and squirrels scurrying invisibly through the brush, begging for your attention. The wind rustling bare branches, anticipating and hoping for leaves to rustle and flowers to blow away.

With every “out” breath, notice and acknowledge your fellow human beings passing you as they move through their walks and runs–strengthening their bodies just as you are.

Be here now. Feel your chest open as you inhale nature around you and feel your belly soften as you breathe out into it. Each step you take releases a tension, a negative thought, a stress of the day. Each breath you take nourishes and nurtures your mind and body with the oxygen you need to break free from the day. 

What matters is your presence in this moment.

meditation

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The Beauty of Disappointment

I recently, along with some of my close friends, experienced the bitter sting of disappointment. 

I had ventured down a potential path where I was unsure of what I wanted but spent many days thinking, ruminating, and marinating in options and potential scenarios. It was so easy for me to get stuck in the over analyzing of whether something may or may not be right for me. So easy, that it became innate in how I would think about the situation. And then, it didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.

Disappointment makes you look in the mirror and admit that you had little control over whether or not the thing you’ve been worrying and overanalyzing even pans out the way you want it to. Disappointment is painful.  But, the beauty of disappointment is that it forces self awareness.

Disappointment is a friend to transformation, a call to both accuracy and generosity in the assessment of our self and others, a test of sincerity and a catalyst of resilience. Disappointment is just the initial meeting with the frontier of an evolving life, an invitation to reality, which we expected to be one particular way and turns out to be another, often something more difficult, more overwhelming and strangely, in the end, more rewarding.

– David Whyte

I was reminded of a powerful Huffington Post article that has become part of my weekly, if not daily, mindfulness practice. It speaks about timing and how important practicing self-compassion is in times of disappointment or uncertainty. And,  it reminds me of something very important: Our experience cannot always be manipulated.
Let Go

And, sometimes the experience we are meant to have is that of beautiful disappointment.

 

 

Why Dancing Is My Other Meditation

For me, the practice of mindfulness is far beyond learning how to take time away from your day to pause and meditate. In my opinion, it’s any act that allows you to feel present, free, and in yourself.

Dancing is one of my favorite mindfulness practices. I am not a trained dancer in any shape or form but it is, without a doubt, the most free and present I ever feel.

I always dance with my headphones on, the music throbbing against my eardrums, filling my body with all of its melodies, words, and notes that are meant to be moved to. I allow my body to move in whichever way feels natural and, inevitably, the stressors, anxieties, and worries of the day melt away as I let the music wash over me.

I become aware of how amazing our bodies are, my body is, how alive it is. It allows me to move as I want, limbs lifting, twirling, swinging, curving my body and letting go and welcoming complete and utter freedom. Hours pass by before I realize that I’m breathless, smiling, having used all of my living space to fill the room with my creative expression.

I dance with my whole body. I dance through grocery stores. I dance while cleaning. I dance in the car. I dance standing in lines. I dance purely. And, I have always danced like nobody’s watching…even if everyone is.

So, in case you need a little inspiration on this regular ole Tuesday, remember to dance mindfully, dance fully, and dance like nobody’s watching.

The Serenity of Solitude

I’ve written previously about the decidedly un-glamorous aspects of business travel. No longer a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young professional, I tend to view business travel as more of a whirlwind of inconvenience, eating poorly, and fellow travelers imposing their weird quirks on the airplane seat next to you.

But, there is one thing that I’ve found to be an amazing experience that I cherish and that is the beauty and peacefulness of eating alone.

I traipsed downstairs to the restaurant within my cactus-filled hotel, bare-faced, groggy, and reminding myself to make healthy choices for breakfast (don’t order the pancakes AND the bacon). 

I sat down in a corner with a lovely panoramic view of my fellow breakfasters. They consisted of professional meetings, tourists, families, young couples in love, and a smattering of hipsters.

There is something beautifully peaceful about only hearing the music in your ears and the slow breath of you. No demands for interaction or witty banter pulling you away from being present in the moment. Simple, sweet observation of your surroundings and your body is all that happens in the serenity of solitude. 

I found myself able to eat more slowly, carefully, dare I say…mindfully. Savoring the yogurt, sweet cream, and granola crunch. Tasting the bittersweet acidity and fullness of my fresh-squeezed orange juice. I wasn’t focused on what my next to-do was or where I needed to be.

I was, exactly, where I was supposed to be in that moment. Those moments are rare, fleeting, and I feel like I spend most of my days chasing them.

The serenity of solitude is a pure-hearted mindfulness practice. So, I urge all of you, to go treat yourselves to a little morning breakfast and mindfulness practice and allow yourself to be within yourself. 

Be Nice To Yourself

I wrote a post awhile ago about the struggle of self-compassion. How the very idea of being compassionate to the self takes a back seat to being compassionate to the people you love, the people closest to you, or the people who we perceive to be in need of compassion–of our compassion.

Not to mention that there’s clearly a significant gap between self-esteem and self-compassion. I wouldn’t even put them in the same category: “I feel good about myself” vs. “I am compassionate to myself” are decidedly different things.

The path to self-actualization can be hard and confusing. And, it inevitably has its ups and downs. Like a rollercoaster that looks amazingly fun from below. And once you’re strapped in, feet dangling, head crammed between the headrests, all thoughts turn to “why did I think this was a good idea?!

And as someone who loathes roller coasters (there’s a lot of convincing and negotiation that has to happen to get me on one), I will be first to admit that the end of that ride there’s a weightlessness and no thoughts about the future or the past. You are fully present in that post-adrenaline rush of your body.

You are a person, and being a person is hard.

The above quote comes from a great meditation exercise shared with me by one of my closest friends. Check it out HERE.

Mindfulness Is Creativity

Inspiration is a funny thing. It will strike only when it really wants to: in the middle of the workday, in the middle of the night, when you’re out with friends, on the toilet (yep),  or when you’re in the waiting room of your doctor’s office.

Being mindful, present, and responsive to the call of inspiration, I’ve found to be a major contributor in my journey to becoming a fully formed, more prolific creative. I would, maybe, even venture, that they go hand-in-hand. Mindfulness is creativity. 

A powerful quote about being brave storytellers in our lives struck a chord with me. So, I’ll leave a little piece of this inspiration right here…

You already know so much more than you think you know. You are not finished; you are merely ready. After a certain age, no matter how you’ve been spending your time, you have very likely earned a doctorate in living. If you’re still here–if you have survived this long–it is because you know things. We need you to reveal to us what you know, what you have learned, what you have seen and felt. If you are older, chances are strong that you may already possess absolutely everything you need to live a more creative life–except the confidence to actually do your work. But we need you to do your work.

 

The Mindful Act of Being Soothed

The yin yang symbol has been popularized and stylized over time but I will be the first to admit that I didn’t know much about its’ real meaning. So, I decided to do a little research, beyond being the cool accessory to wear in the 90’s.

The yin yang is meant to provoke and appreciate balance in life. Complementary, interdependent, pushing and pulling of polarized forces. The yin can mean a variety of things but one in particular is its’ exemplification of feminine energy–the nurturing and nourishing side of life (think: gentle and kind-like). And, subsequently the yang representing masculine energy (think: strong and controlling). The idea is a true balance of these two opposing forces for a holistic approach in life. 

Recently, it was brought to my attention that most of my life (my work, the types of exercise I do, how I make decisions, how I socialize, etc.) are very yang in nature. And, that I need to work on balancing with more yin.

So, she asked me, “what are things that are soothing to you?” 

I looked at this person like they had three heads. Wait, what? Soothing? Like…I’m a baby?

Truth: I’m not a person who relaxes easily (see: creation of this blog and most recent blog post).  So, I’ve had to ruminate and marinate and turn this question over and over again in my mind. And here’s what I have so far of things that soothe me wholeheartedly: 

A hot water bottle on my belly.

The feel of the sun on my skin.

The rocking motion of a perfectly creaking rocking chair.

The softness of a well-loved blanket.

The loud ticking of the second-hand on a clock.

The first notes of my favorite songs.

Deafening rainfall in a quiet room.

Slipping into my well-worn sweatpants at the end of a long day (can I get an Amen on this one?)

I realized this: I take the things that “soothe” me completely for granted. Perhaps a different way to practice mindfulness–to take a step back and bask in the act of being soothed.