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Surprises When Beginning a Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness practice is the of focusing your attention on the present moment, on your physical presence and surroundings as well as the thoughts traveling through your mind. Through consistent practice of mindfulness, you can train your mind to cultivate this awareness in order to increase focus, stabilize emotions, and improve your overall health.

Mindfulness may sound like a simple concept, but if you are beginning a daily practice of mindfulness, you may encounter a few surprises.

Animation by Happify  for guided meditations and other mindfulness-building activities designed by experts. Narrated by Dan Harris, author of 10% Happier

You Already Know How to Do It

Mindfulness is not a special state of awareness. It is the focusing of your attention on that which you are already capable, your current state. You do not need to change or aspire to something better but only accept yourself as you are in that moment.

Mindfulness is Not Just About the Mind 

Mindfulness is also about listening to your body and being aware of your surroundings in the present moment. A simple mindfulness meditation often begins with focus on the breath and how it moves through your body. When you notice thoughts or feelings pushing for your attention, you can accept their existence, let them go, and focus again on the breath and body.

There Are Many Ways to Practice Mindfulness

While sitting, standing, or moving, you can focus your awareness on your body, your surroundings, and the transitory nature of your thoughts. You might want to practice mindfulness meditation by sitting in a comfortable chair or on a cushion and focusing on your breath, or by repeating a single word or phrase, for ten minutes. However, physical activities such as yoga can also become practices in mindfulness.

To ease your introduction to mindfulness meditation, contact us for more information about our zafus – cushions and other products. We’re happy to help.

Get to the Heart and be Centered

Get to the heart and be centered.

The  heart center or the 4th chakra deals with all things love and light. It is a center of calm and intuition. When this chakra is in balanced, you feel serene, you feel empathy for others and are able to forgive quickly. You are tapped into your intuition and are able to follow your heart. When this chakra is out of balance, you may feel closed off from others. Feelings of jealousy, holding grudges, and fear of betrayal also accompany heart chakra imbalance.

Incorporate simple habits on a daily basis to keep the 4th chakra balanced. Make a point to connected with others by smiling at someone when you make eye contact. Pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Look for opportunities to volunteer in your community.

dianewright 4th chakraActivate the 4th chakra in your yoga practice by incorporating heart opening poses. After a few rounds of sun salutations to warm up, come into a high lunge. Interlace the fingers behind the back, draw the shoulder blades down, and allow the chest to open as you move into a back bend. Repeat on the other side.

Camel, another back bend is a great way to open the heart. Come to stand on your knees, and start by bringing your hands to your low back. Keeping your core engaged, draw the shoulder blades down, the shoulders back, and allow the chest to open. Look up towards the ceiling and begin to move into as much of a back bend as comfortable. To move further, drop your hands back to connect with your heels for a deeper back bend.

Cool it down with a reclining butterfly pose. In a lying position, draw the soles of the feet together and let the knees drop open. Bring the hands to rest on the heart and feel the warmth emanating from the 4th chakra.

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Anahata Fourth Chakra painting by Diane Wright @sunjourneystudio

Welcome inspiration into your life by cultivating gratitude

Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. 
And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good
Maya Angelou, Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer

Inspiration can often seem like a fleeting and ephemeral visitor. We wait with expectant breath, hoping that inspiration will come to us, often feeling stuck or helpless in the meantime. Contrary to this image, however, we do not need to be passive in our search for inspiration. One of the most sure-fire ways to invite creative energy and flow into our lives is to actively cultivate a deep sense of gratitude.

So, how do we practice gratitude on a daily basis? Here are some strategies to get started:

  • Create a journal of thanks. It is easy to feel inspiration and abundance during times in which all is going well. Writing daily in a journal devoted solely to gratitude reminds us to remain present and open to inspiration even when life does not seem to be going our way. Take a few moments each day to reflect on and record at least one thing for which you are grateful.
  • Before beginning your yoga or meditation practice, set a specific intention for gratitude. This may be an image, a word, a person, a place. Invite this intention to live deeply in your practice for the day. In allowing it to live in your body and breath, you will literally be creating space for new inspiration.
  • Heighten your senses to the under-appreciated. Try to become a detective in your life as you search for aspects you typically take for granted. As you walk through your daily routine, say thank you for something or someone you may never have noticed.

Through these simple and powerful practices, we may begin to transform ourselves from passive to active receivers of inspiration. In giving gratitude, we create a cycle of physical, emotional, and spiritual abundance. It seems that the more we say thank you, the more we are given to be thankful for.

Pause – Contact us to learn more, and to share your favorite practices of gratitude.

 

Stay balanced

Stay balanced while focusing on the 3rd chakra.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe 3rd Chakra is located right in your center, the navel area. Not only is it physically in your center, but it is also your center of personal power. This chakra is the seat of your personal power, self-esteem, and your fighting spirit. It also is the center of digestion and metabolism. When your 3rd chakra is in balance, you feel focused, powerful, and motivated. You feel in control and have a sense of purpose. When it is out of balance, you may feel not so good about yourself, be indecisive, and have trouble controlling your emotions. Through yoga, meditation, and lifestyle habits you can balance your 3rd chakra.

Since this chakra is associated with digestion, paying attention to your dietary habits can help to keep it balanced. Begin your day with room temperature lemon water, eat mindfully, and try to keep meals to about two handfuls worth of food to avoid overeating.

In your yoga practice boat pose will ignite your inner fire. Begin by sitting, feet flat on the floor, hands behind the knees for support. Engage the core and shift so that you are sitting on your tailbone. Begin to lift the feet up as comfortable. If you can release the hands from the knees and extend them forward, great! If not don’t worry, keep them where they are. Get to a place where you feel a do-able challenge!

Perform seated twist to encourage healthy digestion. Sit cross-legged, and turn towards the right knee. Place the right hand on the floor behind you and the left hand on the right knee. Turn to gaze over the right shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side.

yoga-241614_1920Practice any of the warrior poses to tap into the 3rd chakra. These poses help to establish purpose, focus, and inner strength.

Use meditation to balance the 3rd chakra through the repetition of the sound “ram”. Sitting comfortably for at least 5 minutes, inhale through the nose, and exhale the sound either silently or out loud.

Pause for a twist!

Is meditation painful?

Is meditation painful?  I teach yoga classes and meet people at various conferences and festivals and below is an account of what I hear – people not getting the support for their body that they need.

When I first started meditating, I found that I couldn’t sit for much longer than a half an hour before experiencing unbearable pain in my knees and lower back.  Even though I followed my teacherpausecat3‘s posture instructions to a tee–I kept my head, neck, shoulders, spine and hips stacked in a single line–I still found physical pain to be an obstacle to successful meditation.

I soon discovered that the problem wasn’t with my posture, but with my cushion.  I had been using old throw pillows around the house, but the problem was that they weren’t firm enough– my hip bones would sink down into the cushion, causing my pelvis and hips to dip below the level of my knees.  As it turns out, this is a good recipe for pain in meditation.

As soon as I switched from old pillows to a quality zafu – cushion I was finally able to stop spending my meditation sessions fretting over agonizing leg pain.  I found I was able to meditate for longer periods of time and reach much deeper stages of concentration and peace.

swirlIt is essential that you need to prepare your body for meditation.  Practitioners should keep their hips elevated above their knees when sitting in meditation, and nothing helps with this as much as a good zafu – cushions like those available from Catspaw Cushions.

Please contact us for more information about our zafus – cushions and other products.

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