5 Simple Tips for Becoming a Master of Meditation

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Want to take on meditation?

Here’s 5 tips to help:

Sit.  Learning to sit can be a challenge. Do some light stretches before sitting down and then start off with just 5 minutes of sitting–see how it feels. Remember there are many different ways to sit. Find a seat comfortable for you, in a chair, on a block, sitting on the heels, sitting on a blanket or a pillow. Make sure that you are sitting in a place you’ll be happy to sit. For me there’s a room in my house where the morning light comes in magically. I like to sit in there.

2.  Watch your thoughts.  The mind is always going, in the beginning the goal is not to just turn off the mind (because that isn’t possible and you’ll drive yourself crazy just trying), but rather watch it. Don’t allow yourself to run off with the thoughts, always return to a very natural breath. It is only in watching the thoughts that you begin to realize that you are not these thoughts. You actually are the observer of the thoughts. Once you realize that you are not your mind, that is when the mind begins to settle, but this is a process so don’t beat yourself up if your meditation in the beginning is a crazy mind journey.

3. Let the mind entertain Some complain that meditation is just boring.  However, watching the crazy mind is quite entertaining! Then comes the shapes, sounds, different voices, mountains and endless deep blue lakes, light that shines right through the third eye and expands and contracts all around. In the stillness of sitting, one may find freedom from all thoughts, suspended in the galaxy of nothingness. For everyone, what happens in this space is different, but it’s definitely not boring!

4.  Make and take time to meditateOh time you funny thing…how we are always trying to race you, yet you stay strong and we always seem to lose the race. We must make and take the time to meditate. If mediation could end the inner war going on inside you, would you make the time? If mediation could end your insomnia, anxiety or depression, would you make the time? If mediation could lead you to forgive, if mediation could remove that burden of weight you’ve been carrying all your life, could you find the time? If meditation could make you happy, truly happy would you find the time? Remember that time is an excuse made by the ego to keep you from facing the true you.

5. Just do it! Sounds cliche, but it takes 21 days to form a habit. That means that after doing it for 21 days, it will become part of your regular routine.  Just keep doing it and your well on your way to a happier, more conscious you.

Big hugs,
Lisa

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IMG_1792Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Lisa Sochocki from Haleiwa, Hawaii.  Her motto is, “Be the light, to light the world.” Lisa’s motto runs true to her actions and spirit, living the life of a yogini filled with love and abundance. With 15 years of yoga experience and eight years as a devoted Yoga Instructor, Lisa finally decided to make spreading yoga not only her passion, but her full-time job. Lisa’s studio,Yoga Loft Hawaii opened in April of 2012, where she spends her days diffusing yoga love into the central Oahu community.

Visit Lisa’s website at YogaLoftHawaii.com, read her Tumblr Blog, or connect with her via Facebook and Instagram.

Sacred Sound: Mantras & Chants

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Many years ago when I started a yoga practice, I had no idea what it would reveal to me. I was just hoping for a little extra strength and flexibility, and I did what I could to avoid all the spiritual trappings of the practice. But, somehow, as it does, the yoga did its job. Over the years it brought me through physical, psychological, and emotional revelations that I can’t imagine would have taken place otherwise.

One of the most powerful insights has come through the use of sound and mantra as a basis for the practice. I was born with a hearing impairment that gave me a unique relationship to sound. As a child, I would feel sound, vibration, tone, and intonation in order to more fully access my world. This was second nature to me, but through my studies of yoga (and physics!), I suddenly found a reason behind my special relationship to sound. Just as important, through yoga’s rich mythology, I also gained context and meaning to better understand how the inner and outer practices of yoga work. It is from this perspective that I have always practiced and taught, fueled by the belief that sound has the power to harmonize us and myth brings forth what is alive within us. It is in this spirit that I always end my lectures and workshops with these words: Don’t miss the vibrations.

Mantras and Chants

A mantra, as it relates to the yogic and Vedic traditions of India, is a Sanskrit phrase that encapsulates some higher idea or ideal within the cadence, vibration, and essence of its sound. A mantra can be as simple as a single sound — such as chanting the well-known sound — or as complicated as chanting a poem that tells a grand story or gives instruction. Whatever mantra is chanted, no matter how long or short, the purpose is the same: it is meant to act like a skeleton key to help you bypass the mundane matters and mental chatter of the day-to-day mind in order to reach a transcendent state of awareness and self-realization that is, quite frankly, indescribable. Every yogic practice provides the means for us to do this — such as äsana (postures), meditation, and präëäyäma (breath work) — but mantra practice and näda yoga are uniquely simple and universal. If you can form a thought, you can do a mantra practice. The simple act of thinking a mantra is a start to a genuine practice. The silent repetition of the sound while driving, for example, can be a starting point. Eventually, our practice might grow to include chanting while meditating, attending lively mantra-based musical performances (kirtan, or kértana), or perhaps even chanting a longer mantra 108 times aloud to celebrate the New Year. As I’ve said, there is no wrong way to use a mantra.

In the United States, mantra has gained popularity largely through the musical kirtan (kértana) tradition. Popular kirtan musicians such as Krishna Das, Deva Premal, and Dave Stringer have brought these Eastern chants to life by giving them some good old American rock-and-roll flair. While the kirtan tradition in India began around the ninth century, its look and feel hasn’t changed much even as it has evolved to incorporate Western musical proclivities. It has always had (and still has) a fairly simplistic call-and-response-type format, where the leader will chant a phrase that is repeated by the audience. This typically becomes more lively and fast as the chant continues. In India, various instruments are used — typically the harmonium (similar to an accordion in a box), the tabla (classical Indian drum set), and the cartals (tiny cymbals). Those instruments are still present in many kirtan settings today, yet the music is often Westernized through the incorporation of all sorts of instruments, like the guitar, bass, and even a proper Western drum kit (like how Chris Grosso and I perform!). What is wonderful about many of these yogic and Vedic traditions is that they are quite malleable. So long as the intention is still sealed within the practice, the practice — even if it is modernized and Westernized — does not lose its efficacy.

So while some choose to chant mantras in a kirtan setting, others have long used mantra in spiritual practice in accordance with daily rituals, meditation, or as a way to bind fellow students of a tradition. Many use a mantra during their morning worship practice to invoke an intention or particular deity. Many practitioners also stay focused in their meditation practice by silently or quietly chanting a mantra. And some traditions claim certain mantras as part of their tradition — almost like a secret handshake. In many Eastern spiritual traditions, it is common at the beginning and end of a spiritual practice to chant a mantra or . Mantras are also commonly used as prayers for peace, health, or well-being. Mantras can be used to focus the mind and empower whatever spiritual practice we embark on. Mantra is fuel for the inner spiritual fire.

I encourage you to simply begin a mantra practice in whatever way that feels right, using my book Sacred Sound. and/or the mantra library on my website (www.bit.ly/mantralibrary), as a guide . Start simple, such as with om, and incorporate other, longer, or more complex mantras as they resonate with you. Some mantras may appeal to you because of their sound, while others may become attractive as you understand their context, underlying mythology, and intention. Over time, as you use each mantra in your life and practice, it will become like a friend whom you come to know more and more deeply. The mantra may start out as a little gem that lightens your day, but after years of saying it, it may also become a bright light that guides you through the darkest of times. Through practice, we make these mantras our own so they help us on our spiritual journey.

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AlannaKaivalya2_cEditor’s note: This is a guest post by Alanna Kaivalya, author of some of my favorite yoga books, including her recently released Sacred Sound. She is the yoga world’s expert on Hindu mythology and mysticism. Her podcasts have been heard by more than one million people worldwide, and her Kaivalya Yoga Method melds mythology, philosophy, and yoga. Visit her online at http://www.alannak.com.

 Adapted from the book Sacred Sound © 2014 by Alanna Kaivalya. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com.

The Advanced Yoga Practice for When Things Fall Apart

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Crap happens. Things fall apart. Life gets hard.

This is about the advanced, accessible yoga practice that will help you when that happens. Read on…

We make life harder or easier depending on how we think about what’s happening. We can’t change what happened to us, but we can change how it impacts us. The shift from the toxin of “This is terrible” to the cleansing “This is what it is” is relief.

We go from fighting our reality to letting it be what it will be. It will be that, whether we fight it or not. We get to choose whether we have that experience in peace or in turmoil.

On our yoga mat, stuff happens. Our postures fall apart. We get asked to do something difficult. It gets hard.

We make it harder or easier depending on how we think about what’s happening. If we’ve chosen to listen deep, and taking our guidance on what and where to go next from the person at the front of the room, we’re not in charge of changing what happens to us. But we can change how it impacts us.

This shift from “I really don’t like this pose,” or “Why is she getting us to do this?” to the cleansing “This is what is” is relief. We go from fighting our reality to letting it be what it will be. It will be this posture, that flow, this arrangement of arms and legs—whether we fight it or not.

In turmoil, we create an endless loop of stress-inducing thoughts. Thoughts that take what’s happening and make it worse. Much worse. It’s possible to experience things that we’d like to call terrible or awful and just call them life.

Just as it’s possible to experience a yoga posture we’d like to call frustrating and too tough and just call it yoga.

Hang in. Breathe deep.

Don’t run from it. Our yoga practice gets challenging. Things fall apart. It’s what life does.

It changes. It grows. It surprises us. And so do we.

Joseph Campbell said: “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” We’re not meant to stay stagnant. Not meant to hang onto the ways we think life should be.

We’re meant to to unfold, to gently rise up from resistance and angst and into peace. A lotus arcing into bloom.

Lotuses grow in the muck. The messy, changing, layers of mud beneath a body of water. They root down and then steadily press upwards through the lake, rising into bloom when they reach the surface.

Butterflies strain and bite and press against their cocoon until they emerge–with strengthened wings. Ready to fly. Every seed cracks open before the new growth can come out.

This is what the tough things do for us. This is what life does for us. This is what our yoga practice can do for us.

It helps us to emerge from the cages we’ve created. By showing us where we’re holding the bars in front of our own faces. Every time a certainty dissolves–something we held to be true about life–we emerge into a new terrain.

Opening into your fullest self–strength, peace, power–means letting things fall apart.

So you can rise again.

xNamaste,
L

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Editor’s note: This was another awesome guest post from Lindsey Lewis–life coach and yoga teacher. Stay up to date with her latest at www.libreliving.comFacebook, and Twitter.  Sign up now to join Lindsey’s Power of Peace Challenge starting on May 1, 2014.

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Photo credit: Camillia Lee on Facebook

5 Key Benefits of Being Positive

sunshine-positive-lululemon-yogaOur hearts are like a safe in the energy bank of our bodies. We each have our own security personnel in the form of a personal energy field that protects us and determines how we feel, think and function. This energy field ensures the safety of our hearts. And since energy is everywhere and in everything we should learn how to make ongoing positive deposits into our happiness bank account.

I have studied the research on the beneficial effects of being positive and the negative affects of being negative. The research is clear. It really does pay to be positive and the benefits are numerous. The ancient yogis have been teaching this for thousands of years. Sutra 1.3 is translated as:

Yoga frees you from the drama, the tragedy, the saga your mind creates and allows you to experience your True Joyful Self…

We have a choice in being positive. For every minute we are angry, we lose sixty seconds of happiness. We must recognize as John Lembo says “Every waking moment we talk to ourselves about the things we experience. Our self-talk, the thoughts we communicate to ourselves, in turn control the way we feel and act.”  Therefore the first step is to be aware of your mental habits. So often we don’t even realize we habitually catastrophize and trigger the stress response as a result.

We have the power to consciously develop a habit of looking for the good. A habit where you can expect people to treat you in a positive way. Why? Because through the way we think and act we teach other people how to treat us in return.

Jen Gray Blackburn writes,  ‎”You will find life a whole lot easier if you can keep in mind that most people are just trying to do the best they can.”  As yogis, it is our responsibility to decrease suffering and instead promote positivity expressed as love and compassion. This in turn strengthens our personal experience of universal joy and happiness.

Here are 5 key benefits to inspire you to practice being positive.

5 Benefits of Being Positive:

  1. Stress Reduction: Positive thoughts counter the negative effects of stress. For example, you can’t be thankful and stressed at the same time. (Several Studies)
  2. Social Interaction: Positive people have more friends, which is a key factor of happiness. (Robert D. Putnam)
  3. Love: Marriages are much more likely to succeed when the couple experiences a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions whereas when the ratio approaches 1 to 1, marriages are more likely to end in divorce. (John Gottman)
  4. Performance at Work: Positive people are able to see the big picture, which helps them identify solutions, whereas negative people maintain a narrower perspective and tend to focus on problems. (Barbara Fredrickson) Positive work environments outperform negative work environments. (Daniel Goleman) In the workplace positive people are more likely to receive greater support from their colleagues and as result receive pay raises and promotions more frequently. (Several Studies)
  5. Life Expectancy: Positive people live longer. (A Primer in Positive Psychology, Christopher Petersen, PhD)

Keep it positive!

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!
Silvia

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Screen Shot Front Silvia CardEditor’s note: This is a guest post by Daily Cup of Yoga contributor Silvia Mordini, E-RYT, retreat leader, happiness coach, and yogipreneur. Enthusiasm to love your life is contagious around Silvia. Her expert passion connects people to their own joyful potential. Silvia lives her happiness in such a big way that you can’t help but leave her classes, workshops, trainings and retreats spiritually uplifted! Born in Ecuador, raised traveling around the globe, she is an enthusiastic citizen of the world and spiritual adventurer. She has over 10,000 hours and 15 years of teaching experience, owned a yoga studio for 9 years and after being run over by a car used yoga to recover physically and emotionally. Silvia leads Alchemy Tours Yoga Retreats and Alchemy of Yoga RYT200 Yoga Teacher Training.

Silvia can be reached on the Web at www.alchemytours.com or www.silviamordini.com, or via email at silvia@alchemytours.com. Twitter: @alchemytours@inspiredyogagal; Facebook: Silvia Mordini; YouTube: lovingyourday; Pinterest: Silvia Mordini; Intagram: alchemytours.

Photo credit: lululemon on instagram

10 Ways to Find Peace

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1.  Get into your body. When we’re not feeling peace, it’s usually because we’re not feeling at all. We’re thinking. And we’re believing all these non-peaceful thoughts. We’re also feeding them with more energy.

  • So to stop feeding the thoughts, and feed peace instead, we drop away from the part of our brain in charge of thoughts and into the part of our brain in charge of physical sensation. Do some asana, go for a jog, wrestle with your dog, or just lie down and breathe into every space in your body. Feel that? Peace is in. Non-peaceful thoughts are out.

2.  Become the observer. Once we return to our body, it becomes easier to go beyond our thoughts. It becomes easier to enter the space of the observer. You can do this either standing or seated—whatever works best for you.

  • Bring your awareness to what you feel in your body, and then start to notice your thoughts. Noticing your thoughts does something powerful: it takes you out of them, and into the observer in you. The part of you that can watch thoughts and let them pass, instead of letting the thoughts race you around in circles.

3.  Go easy on yourself. Can’t concentrate during seated or standing meditation? Try walking meditation. Or use mantras.

4.  Activate powerful thinking. Question thoughts that make you stressed. Once you can come into your body, identify a belief as a thought and enter the place of the observer, you can activate powerful thinking. All in the name of peace. Ask yourself: Is this non-peaceful thought true? What might be a more true thought?

5.  Listen to what’s right for you. Other people might not need or want peacefulness, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Give yourself permission to take time to do things that bring you peace.

6.  Befriend your inner lizard. We all have these amygdala in the temporal region of our brain—and they’re pretty much in charge or fear-, anger- , and negativity-based thinking. That part of our brain is also called our lizard brain.

  • Try this: Next time you catch yourself thinking a non-peaceful thought, imagine it coming out of the mouth of a lizard. What happens? Most people I get to do this end up laughing. Wouldn’t you love to be able to laugh at those thoughts?

7.  Ask yourself, what would Buddha say? Or Shiva, God, Mother Teresa. Get a peace-inducing figure in your life and have a conversation with them whenever you need them.

8.  Immerse yourself in the moment. Use mindfulness tools to help you become absolutely immersed in the moment—it’s saturated with sensation and imbued with peace.

9.  Pursue joy. Go deeper. Joy is what happens when we go beyond the mind. Not as a result of recognizing that we’ve gone beyond thought, but simply as a result of entering into the Self that exists beyond thought. It’s a peaceful joy that nourishes and lasts.

10.  Practice acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean we accept situations that aren’t right for us, or settle for less than we deserve. It means in any given moment, we choose peace over resistance and see how that transforms our experience of the moment.

Thinking of you,
xL

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Editor’s note: This was another guest post from the amazing Lindsey Lewis–life coach and yoga teacher. Stay up to date with her latest at www.libreliving.comFacebook, and Twitter.  Sign up by Friday, February 28, 2014, to join Lindsey’s 30-Day Happiness Challenge starting on March 1.

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Going Creative – Meditation and Creative Consciousness

7097958115_c89680128f_bHumans are conscious beings. We are able to both analyze the creative spirit, discuss it intellectually — and also experience it.

When we meditate, we come home to our own creative fount, a sense of oneness that evaporates the ego-centred perception that we are separate beings adrift in a phenomenal world, doomed to die.

In meditation, we experience how humans are both creations and creators, and also how creator and the created are inseparable, one and the same. That we are about as separate from the rest of the world as a wave is separate from the sea.

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Creativity and The Con-Mind

To create, we need to overcome convention — the prior creations of what is usually called the ego mind. I call it “con”-mind, short for conventional, conceptual, conditioned and conformist (and, alas, a bit conceited, thinking it’s in charge of everything and a bit confrontational, seeing itself as separate and essentially alone, needing to defend itself. On the plus side, it’s good at construction and consistency, both essential to good creation.).

We all have a con-mind and we all have a creative mind and they inter-are.

Con-mind’s motivations are a desire to gain, reluctance to lose, or fear of choosing wrongly. In this mode, our mind is focused on the future outcomes of our present actions. If the outcomes are not achieved, we are disappointed and dissatisfied; if they are, we worry about losing them. Fear is the underlying driver and the inevitable outcome and what fear creates, mostly, is more of itself.

We are all more creative when we pay less attention to our con minds. When we take our attention away from the surface, our going and doing, and give it to the depth of our knowing and being. Or, deeper again, to the nothingness that interpenetrates everything.

This is where meditation comes in. When we take silent time to meditate, a shift happens, from thingness to nothingness. Our consciousness expands, our awareness deepens, we come into the presence of what the physicist Albert Einstein once described as “the most beautiful emotion we can experience… the [underlying] power of all true art and science.”

This power — our creative intelligence — is in us all. We don’t acquire it, any more than we acquire our fingers or our feet. Accessing it is largely a matter of removing the barriers we place between ourselves and this innate, powerful potential, allowing it to flow more freely.

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Dissolving Barriers through Meditation

Meditation dissolves those barriers. All meditation traditions hold that our conceptual mind is mainly driven by fear and wanting. Viewing and interpreting the world through those lenses leads us into a confused state. Patanjali, who wrote The Yoga Sutras, one of the oldest surviving guides to meditation, called the state avidya (ignorance) and speaks of it as a kind of veil that blocks spiritual and creative light from the mind. The object of meditation is to dissolve the veil, so conceptual mind and creative spirit are in direct and clear communication. Avidya disintegrates, the fog disperses, we can see clearly, at multiple levels, with our big mind.

This is very different approach to that taken by Western philosophy, which constantly explores the external world for information and knowledge, to discover practical answers to the fundamental questions. The eastern mind, the meditative traditions have always searched inwards, not for information for its own sake but for the sake of awakening not just knowledge but knowing. Creative consciousness.

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Creativity as Consciousness

Today, new technologies and understandings are confirming some, and changing other, long-held ideas about what those words mean. “Creative” is no longer applied only to a particular set of activities — writing, drawing, singing. It is now being understood as a condition of consciousness, a type of attention and awareness. You can paint or sing or draw or write in a conventional way. You can mop the floor, cook the dinner, do the filing or mow the lawn in a creative way. It’s an attitude, an inner condition brought to the present moment and the task in hand.

To “go creative” is to wake up, to allow your inner and outer senses to perceive, and thereby partake in, what is unfolding in a given moment. Creation is the act of turning up to the moment and, in so doing, making it new, fresh, alive and alert. It cannot be a creative activity, a creative moment without your creative presence.

You don’t have to do anything. On the contrary, in order for creative inspiration to arise, a part of your mind has to be in a state of “being” rather than “doing.” Guatama Buddha, sitting still under the bodhi tree, apparently doing nothing, was as creative as it is ever possible for a human being to be.

In order for a moment in your universe to be creative, it needs your presence, your alive, alert, awake attention. Then you have fulfilled your purpose in that moment. You have become a creative conduit, one of the conditions through which creative consciousness expands and spreads in our world. Though we are not always there for it, this creative consciousness is always there for us.

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Inspiration-Meditation-CoverEditor’s note: This is an extract from Inspiration Meditation, a “How To Meditate” Guide from novelist, poet, and Director of The Alliance of Independent Authors, Orna Ross. Inspiration Meditation explains the theory and practice of meditation — and introduces Inspiration Meditation, Orna’s own meditation method, which she practices daily and has taught to thousands of people through her Go Creative! books and blog.

Inspiration Meditation is designed to cultivate creativity, ideas and insights. It is not just for writers and artists — though they will find it intensely useful. Inspiration Meditation is for anyone who wants to master the art of conscious creation and apply it to any aspect of life.

A long-time teacher of creative and imaginative practice, Orna lives in London and writes, publishes and teaches around the globe. She has a dedicated belief in the power of the published word to transform and liberate. When she’s not writing, you’ll probably find her reading.

As for the photos, I took them in the early spring of 2012 on a trip to Kyoto, one of my favorite cities because of its contemplative beauty. Hope you don’t mind my walk down memory lane…

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Unraveling The Science Behind Yoga’s Benefits

“If there was a drug that could mimic the effects of yoga, it would probably be the world’s best-selling drug.” ~Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D.

Thought this was a pretty interesting interview with John Denninger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, who led a five-year study that revealed how yoga and meditation practice affect genes and brain activity in the chronically stressed. It’s science, people!

5 Tips for Practicing Walking Meditation

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It is true, we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers, nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises. Our expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old hearth-side from which we set out. Half the walk is but retracing our steps. We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return–prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again–if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man–then you are ready for a walk.

Walking by Henry David Thoreau

I have an admission to make:  I’m a terrible yogi.  My poses aren’t always exact, I don’t practice regularly, and I can’t stay focused.

While I often practice at home, I do have a couple of teachers I work with on rare occasion, both of whom remind me to accept where I am and to be at peace with my own yoga style.

In the past year, I’ve supplemented my yoga practice with walking meditation (which is exactly what it sounds like).  I work for myself and find it quite hard to truly relax and clear my mind, but with walking meditation, I get some clear head space and a bit of physical fitness at the same time.  Here are some of my lessons learned that you can incorporate into your routine.

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1. Choosing a route is really, really important.

On a good walk, when really clearing my mind and trying to deepen my breathing, I can totally zen out.  And, while zen, I have tripped over many curbs in my neighborhood.  Thankfully no bruises except to my ego!  I also prefer routes with fewer pedestrians and bikes, so I can enjoy the open space.

The best routes for a walking meditation are biking/hiking trails where you don’t have to worry too much about traffic or big curbs, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.  It sounds obvious, but I missed the memo the first couple of times.

2. Ditch the smartphone (or go airplane mode).

The urge to check my smartphone is so great that I really can’t go on a meditative walk with it.  But, I like to have the timer and be able to use the phone if needed, so when I do bring it, I put it into airplane mode.

Personally, I don’t like to go on my walks with music – I find my mind can slip into the zone much faster and longer without any tunes.  You might be different; I do encourage you to try a few walks without headphones before you write it off.

3. It’s about going deep, not walking far.

In my experience, it is better to do 2 laps around the neighborhood dog park and get a deep sense of clarity instead of walking a few miles just to get the mileage in.  This is a walking meditation, not a power walk.   Don’t worry about how fast you walk or how far you go.  Focus on what is happening on the inside.

4. Speaking of focus, start from your feet and end with the top of your head.

Walking meditation is a meditation, so the focus is internal.  Start with your feet – notice how they feel hitting the ground.  Notice the feeling, the rhythm, of your legs in motion.  How fast is your heartbeat?  Are your arms relaxed – how do they swing?

Just like in yoga, clarify your breathing: deep, steady breaths.  Focus on those feelings of your feet and legs and hands in motion, which will help clear your mind.

5. Make your walking meditation what you want it to be.

You have permission to make your walking meditation whatever you want it be.  Make it what you need.  Some people will say that it’s not really meditation.  But if you’re getting the peace of mind and mental relief you need, does it matter what anyone thinks?

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[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Andy Hayes, the founder of Plum Deluxe, a community of friends and family who enjoy life’s luxuries, big and small. Connect with him on Pinterest or Facebook.]

 

Swapping Fear for Fierceness

camillia-lee-yoga-colorsHey lovely you. Is something calling you? Do you feel like there’s more out there? Is there more you want to do in the world? Are you afraid to take the next step?

As a graduate of Fear 400 for Life, I’m here to tell you that I understand being afraid. I spent the first two decades of my life afraid of parties. Meeting new people. Trying new things. High school gym class. So, that was fun.

Enter decade three, and all of a sudden things changed. I learned something about fear that I’ll never forget. Are you ready? Here it is…

FEAR IS JUST A FEELING-STATE

Take a second and read that again. Did it really sink in?

The Power of Compassionate Curiosity

Here’s how you’ll know if the power in that statement truly landed with you. Think of the thing you’re most afraid of right now. Really. It’ll only take a second. Do you feel afraid already? Good.

Now instead of trying to change the way you feel, take your attention deeper into exactly what you feel.  Ask yourself these three questions:

  • Where does fear show up in your body?
  • What area of your body holds the strongest physical sensation right now?
  • What specifically do you feel in that area?

While you’re answering these questions, breathe more deeply.

I have a hunch you’re starting to feel less afraid. That’s because instead of giving over to fear, you’ve gotten compassionately curious about it. Fear is just a feeling-state, just like joy, happiness, or love. It rises, crests, and falls—waves on the surface of your ocean.

You’re not your feeling-states; you’re the ocean beneath the waves.

All feeling-states pass, including fear. And they pass even faster if we face them with compassionate curiosity…

COMPASSIONATE CURIOSITY TRUMPS FEAR

How Knowing Fear Can Change Your Life

What would be different if every time you felt fear you helped it pass through you, instead of cowering? Imagine the things you could do, the people you’d meet, the accomplishments and goals you’d master.

Imagine your destiny.

It’s calling you, and it’s only a feeling-state that’s standing in your way. You’ve got the power. Breathe through it, let it pass, and let it go. Keep going. You’ve got this.

xL

karmym - breathe

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Editor’s note: Enjoy another fantastic guest post from Lindsey Lewis–life coach and yoga teacher. Stay up to date with her latest at www.libreliving.comFacebook, and Twitter.

Photo credit: Camillia Lee and Karmym

A 5 Step Guide To Waking Up Inside Your Dreams

Fall into a lucid dream

Yoga has many benefits and I’m sure it’s improved your life in so many ways, but for a few minutes let’s concentrate on the heightened sense of awareness you’ve developed in your yoga practice. Maybe you’ve noticed you don’t breeze through life like a zombie as much as you used to, or perhaps you haven’t noticed anything. Today you’re finally going to learn how to use your heightened sense of awareness to change your life.

I want to talk to you about lucid dreaming. Do you wake up in the morning with a smile on your face when you remember dreaming of something magical? What if I was to tell you it was possible to pass into that magical dream world fully aware of everything that was going on? Not only that, but once you’re inside a lucid dream you can manipulate it in any way you want.

Why learn how to lucid dream?

Once inside a lucid dream you have the ability to:

  • Reprogram your mind by rehearsing frightful or stressful situations without the threat of embarrassment. (Practice talking to an audience of people without choking on stage)
  • Unleash your full creativity stored deep inside your subconscious mind that is hard to access when awake. (Artists and musicians can come up with ideas based on scenery and music they see and hear inside the dream world)
  • Ask your true self any questions and it will give you the answer. (Ask the dream, “Where do I really want to be 5 years from now and what will I do to get there?)
  • Visit anywhere you’ve already been, or visit somewhere new and let your subconscious mind populate the environment. (Perform a yoga session next to a waterfall in a lush rainforest)

You’re only limited by your imagination, but I’m sure you can see how waking up inside your dreams could change your life in ways you’ve never imagined. Did I tell you it’s also possible to fly because the laws of physics only exist if you want them to?

The 5 step process

It’s possible to trick your conscious mind into switching on while you’re already inside a dream, but I want to show you how to do something that will blow your mind. You’re going to lie down in your bed, close your eyes and pass into the dream world without losing consciousness.

Step 1 – Building up your dream memory

Even if you already have good dream recall it’s important to keep expanding your memory muscle because you want to remember everything. If you don’t usually remember your dreams you can start now. When you wake up in the morning you need to keep your eyes closed and stay still. Go over the last thing you can remember for 2-5 minutes then write it down in a journal

Step 2 – The preparation stage

In order to pass straight into a lucid dream you need to be about to enter the REM stage of sleep. Unfortunately this isn’t right before bedtime, so you will need to set your alarm to wake you up after about 6 hours of sleep. You could also attempt the technique if you go for an afternoon nap. Once you wake up you should stand for a few minutes then lie down on your back and close your eyes.

Step 3 – Getting into the trance state

Now we’re getting to the serious stuff. Hopefully you don’t find this stage too difficult, especially if you’ve practiced meditation before. Focus on the back of your head until you kill your inner-voice and pass into the trance state. When I say focus I don’t want you to think about anything.

You need to gently focus your awareness onto the feelings in the back of your head where it touches the pillow. You can also watch the back of your head through your mind’s eye. You’ll know when you’re inside the trance state because you’ll be able to carry out step 4.

Step 4 – Sending your body to the brink of sleep

At this point you’re still focusing your awareness onto the back of your head. Imagine your mind and head are two separate entities and they are sitting on top of each other. You need to imagine your mind is slowly sinking into your pillow. If you are in the trance state you should be able to feel it sinking backwards. There is no set limit to how long this stage should take, but you will get quicker in time.

The idea here is to truly believe your body is falling asleep and your mind is sinking. By now you’re going to be feeling some strange sensations inside your body. You just need to learn to accept them. Remember to keep your awareness focused on your sinking mind until your body is nearly asleep and you’re ready to execute step 5.

Step 5 – Passing into the dream world

This is where your heightened awareness built up through years of yoga will come in very handy. You need to take your awareness and shift it outside your body. If you can’t hold onto your awareness you will just pass into a regular dream.

To shift my awareness away from the back of my head I like to focus it onto a state of nothingness. Cease any thoughts from now on and just exist in pure awareness. If your body is at the brink of sleep it will now fade away and you will eventually end up inside a lucid dream.

Take your time

I know those 5 steps might seem easy, but don’t expect to succeed on your first attempt. Some people will, but most people won’t. Steps 3-5 might take a little time, so don’t be surprised if it takes you a week to jump through each of the last 3 steps.

You can practice steps 3 and 4 whenever you want, but don’t expect to pass into a lucid dream unless you carry out the technique before you enter REM sleep. I can promise you waking up inside your dreams will change your life. I know because it’s completely changed mine.

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[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jamie Alexander.  When Jamie isn’t flying through space, jumping out of helicopters, or exploring haunted houses you can find him at LucidAbility.com where he talks about everything related to lucid dreaming.]

Photo credit: Erin on flickr

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