Mindful Monday: It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

Good Mindful Monday morning, friends!

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.”

This has been my mantra this summer, as I prepare to say farewell to my soon-to-be college-bound son. He is a “rising” freshman as I’ve been told they are now referred to.

I’ve been holding on to the preciousness and sanctity of each blessed breath and moment.

And letting go of all of the thoughts of how I could have been a better mom.

I’ve been learning to hang on dearly to memories of all of the laughter and fun and lightness.

To release all of the disappointments and hurts that inevitably happen within a family and a personal relationship.

And to grasp the nuggets of wisdom that result in learning the tough lessons of life.

To hang on to the significance of each “last” before he leaves. Last weekend. Last family dinner. Last Sunday lunch. Last night before he embarks on his new adventure.

And to leave behind the expectations and “shouldas” and “couldas.”

To embrace with gratitude this gift of motherhood.

And to acknowledge that this entire journey has always been about preparing to let go.

To continue to trust in the brilliance of life’s plans.

To relinquish the thought that I ever really had much control over any of it.

To accept in my heart that we all did our best.

And to surrender to the belief that this is exactly how it should unfold.

This morning, I found a brand new park to sit in and write today’s post. It seemed fitting to write my last Mindful Monday before my heart and soul is ripped out and transplanted to another city and state. (Not dramatic at all!)

As I sit on a bench with all the sounds of nature enveloping me, one of these birds flew directly towards me then looped around and flew away! So symbolic. I was completely engrossed in watching the flight. As an afterthought I snapped this picture of that bird with one of his bird friends.

While I am well aware that I’m not the only mother in the history of the world to experience this deep, bittersweet sense of loss; I am definitely feeling connected to every human soul who has, for whatever reason, ever had to say a tough, gut wrenching, totally scary and absolutely necessary farewell.

So when the time comes, I pray for the strength to be able to turn around and paddle away, knowing I’ve done all I can and trusting he will be surrounded with love, support and guidance always.

Wellness Wednesday: Be Good, Real Good

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Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends!

I have strayed away from my practice convinced that it was not going to bring the freedom I need from the perfectionism mindset I held. I think the idea of losing faith in our practice is something we all can relate to in times of emotional stress that turns very physical. In these times we often hear the advice to just “show up” because “that’s 90% of your practice”. So that is exactly what I did. I forced myself to simply show up on my mat despite my racing thoughts and visceral sensations with no expectation to what my practice should or should not be.

Our ability to step onto our mat in a vulnerable state can bring us great courage to sit with the intense sensation we are experiencing. This may be the most important step as we accept ourselves to feel raw and fresh all at the same time. As I lied on my mat, convinced coming to a class was a bad idea, I felt reassured when a teacher I adore so much had said, “This time of year brings us so much pressure to be perfect. Why be perfect when we can be good? I mean real good”. 

Despite our best attempts to use the tools of mindfulness and emotional balance, sometimes we find ourselves again, trapped by the web of our own thoughts, locked behind the prison bars of unnecessary worry, expectation and judgement upon ourselves. The thoughts run themselves so intensely that we stand still fully aware of the storm that implodes as we feel no control over the momentum that occurs.

It is important to remind ourselves that we intend not to be perfect, to not be too selfless. Now, this doesn’t mean we do not strive to be our personal best. It just simply means we must accept that there is no such thing as perfection- especially with the ebb and flow of life. Many of us strive to be this idea of perfect. We take on extra responsibilities, other’s worries, we develop an all or nothing mindset and invest energy where it is not necessary with the intention of doing good by helping others and growing ourself. All to often we run ourselves depleted. It is essential that we detach and view our life to see that no one is strictly judging to see whether we are perfect or not except ourself. But sometimes the idea of perfectionism is ingrained to our core from our years growing up. We can now choose to let go of the idea of performing under the approval of someone just as we can choose to experience life as fun and free from resistance.

Our attempt to hold on to this idea of perfection may only cause frustration and unhappiness as we resist against what is. When we decide to live life without regret, we can strive to the best of our ability. We can feel satisfied in our efforts regardless how strictly others perceive our outcome. Instead, we can rest in the warm arms of our practice to reassure we can be good, real good.

Namaste,

Angie

Mindful Monday: Chakras

Good morning, mindful ones!

Well, we’ve covered the eight-limbed path of Ashtanga Yoga over the past two months!

Let’s continue our deeper study of yoga and familiarize ourselves with the chakras.

Perhaps you’ve heard the chakras mentioned but were never certain exactly what they are…

Well, it is scientifically proven that cosmic energy is in a constant flow around us, within us and through us. But with our unrefined consciousness, we are oblivious to this stream of energy. Therefore we are unable to access it consciously.

Through yogic study, we know that the human body consists of numerous nadis or energy channels that reside in the deeper koshas or sheaths of the body. The main nadis, ida and pingala, run along the spinal column in a curved path and cross one another several times. At the points of intersection they come into contact with the divine energy of the sushumna nadi forming strong energy centers known as chakras.

The sushumna (most gracious) nadi is the body’s great river, running from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, passing through each of the seven chakras in its course. … In subtle body terms, the sushumna nadi is the path to enlightenment.

Chakra is most often described as a spinning wheel or disc. These swirling wheels of energy correspond to massive nerve centers in the body. Each of the seven main chakras contains bundles of nerves and major organs as well as our psychological, emotional, and spiritual states of being. Since everything is moving, it’s essential that our seven main chakras stay open, aligned, and fluid. If there is a blockage, energy flows are restricted.

The drain of a bathtub is often used to illustrate how the chakras work. When the plug is removed from a bathtub full of water, the water is sucked into the drainpipe, and the rotating water forms a vortex. This is how a chakra functions. In the same way as water being sucked into a drainpipe forms a whirlpool, cosmic energy is drawn into the chakras in a circular motion and guided towards the next point of intersection. This cosmic radiation influences and guides our feelings, thoughts and qualities according to our spiritual and karmic susceptibility. It’s important to keep the drain pipe clean and clear, lest the bathtub gets clogged.

Keeping a chakra open is a bit more of a challenge than keeping your but not so difficult when you have awareness. Since mind, body, soul, and spirit are intimately connected, awareness of an imbalance in one area through meditation and mindfulness practices will help bring the others back into balance.

Take for example, a woman who has recently suffered the loss of a loved one. She develops acute bronchitis, which remains in the chest, and then gets chest pains each time she coughs. The whole heart chakra is affected in this case. If she realizes the connection between the loss and the bronchitis, healing will occur much faster if she honors the grieving process and treats that as well.

There are seven main chakras that we will cover throughout the next several weeks.

Have a great week, friends!

Wellness Wednesday: The Cost of Your Energy Investment

“I lied and said I was busy.
I was busy;
but not in a way most people understand.

I was busy taking deeper breaths.
I was busy silencing irrational thoughts.
I was busy calming a racing heart.
I was busy telling myself I am okay.

Sometimes, this is my busy –
and I will not apologize for it.

― Brittin Oakman

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends!

We preserved through the first holiday of the season! It has made me heart warm to see so many of us gravitating towards our restorative practice in order to keep our mind and body in equilibrium for the next holiday to come. All too often we become highly engaged of the preparation of festivities that we may not realize how much personal energy we invest during this time of year. This energy investment can leave us feeling out of our element, disconnected from the joy we wish to experience. However the missing piece to our connection is always there.

Think of it as fresh air. We are continuously breathing in and out the air around us, surrounding us, moving through us. At times we must set ourselves free physically, mentally, emotionally, energetically from the situation we are in to make the conscious decision to take a fresh, deep breath until we feel renourished again to continue forward. Yet the air we welcomed into our bodies remain the same. It was our intention and perception that changed our moment.

It can all be too overwhelming for us as one power source to connect to a multitude of outlets. It may be necessary to unplug and consciously reconnect to areas that help us replenish such as our meditation practice. We may feel that we are neglecting family and friends for investing time for ourselves but it takes great awareness and stillness to acknowledge that soundless solitude is what we need. Closing ourselves off does not have to be a negative experience. When we are conscious of our behavior, a closed circuit may remind us how wholesome it feels to observe electricity connect and flow properly. In a way, our bodies work the same way. As we make the connection internally, we can bring ourselves back to the connection we wish to experience externally.

 

Namaste,

Angie

Mindful Monday: Samadhi

Good morning and happy Monday! We begin the very last month of this decade! Time keeps marching along, doesn’t it?

Last week we covered the difference between Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation).

Dharana sets the stage for Samadhi, which means harmony, “to bring together, to merge.”  

These final three limbs are generally studied together: dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. These final three are at the most sublime and esoteric level of our study of yoga.

In Samadhi, subject and object merge as one. This eighth and final stage of yoga brings on super conscious awareness. One loses a sense of “I” and enters this Samadhi state where the meditator, the process of meditation and the object of meditation becomes one.

Samadhi is actually a series of states and experiences. Yoga Sutras describes various types of samadhis. One has to go through the different types of this Samadhi experience. Finally the practitioner reaches the highest stage of illumination called ‘Dharma Megha Samadhi’, which liberates the practitioner from all limitations of body and mind.

This identity without differences is a liberated soul that enjoys pure awareness. The mind and the intellect have stopped and there is only the experience of truth and unutterable joy. Which is the ultimate aim of our yoga practice.

Dear friends, wishing you a lovely week filled with mindfulness and increased awareness of all things.

Annica! Annica! Annica! Be happy! Be happy! Be happy!

Wellness Wednesday: Warmth in Intimacy

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends!

As we approach Thanksgiving we may feel inspired to internalize the warmth we receive from others and express gratitude. It may be the perfect opportunity to remind ourselves of our own concepts of self love and self worth as we invest ourselves in time spent with others. Taking the time to internally reaffirm our concepts of self love and self worth can help guide us to more intimate connections in our lives. We must love ourselves first before we can descend into the love of others.

We may feel more drawn to reconnecting with those we have not seen in quite some time and create more meaningful exchanges. If we allow ourselves to be open and receptive it may surprise us the intimacy that builds from a reciprocating cycle of gratitude. It may be difficult at first to find ourselves in a state of gratitude as we experience external distractions of the ebbs and flow of life which may take away connections, opportunities and possessions from us we wish to attain. This contraction and expansion of life may leave our heart space depleted. Oddly enough, these kind of losses may actually evoke us into a state of gratitude. However we do not have to be shook to experience this deep sensation of gratitude. It may be as simple as immersing ourself into the concept of being open to adore the simplicity of life.

When we allow ourselves to be open and vulnerable we develop rich, intimate connections. It can be anxiety-provoking to be vulnerable as we fear judgement or weakness. In reality, being vulnerable takes a lot of courage. It takes courage to really sit with our feelings, emotions and sensations. However creating barriers to protect our heart space can only wrongfully encourage us to push others away whereas softening these barriers can create enough space for people to move closer to us, allowing us to experience warmth.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Namaste,

Angie

Mindful Monday: Dhyana

Good morning, mindful ones! It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and we have so much to be thankful for!

Let’s move onward in our study of the eight limbs of yoga.

Last week, we covered dharana, our sixth limb of yoga. Dharana sets the stage for dhyana, the perfect contemplation of meditation.

Dhyana is total absorption into the object being focused on. This uninterrupted flow of concentration creates devotion. Dhyana distinctly differs from the one-pointed concentration of dharana in that it is ultimately a state of being keenly aware without focus. In this quiet stillness the brain produces few or no thoughts at all. The strength and stamina it takes to reach this state of stillness is quite impressive. In dhyana we dissolve separateness and experience the deep river of peace.

As you cultivate a consistent meditation practice, you will derive both mental and physical benefits in your life. Modern science and medicine are just now measuring the benefits of this ancient practice to explain how the body physiologically changes and how each of the trillions of body cells are charged with more prana (energy). Increased life force or prana results in joy, peace, and enthusiasm. Below I’ve listed a small percentage of the vast  benefits of mediation.

Physical Benefits

▪ Lowers high blood pressure

▪ Reduces anxiety

▪ Decreases tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems

▪ Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior

▪ Improves the immune system

▪ Increases energy level, as you gain an inner source of energy

▪ Can assist with weight loss and other physical goals

▪ Improved athletic performance

▪ Can provide significant relief from asthma and allergies

Mental Benefits of Meditation

Meditation brings the brainwave pattern into a relaxed state that promotes healing. The mind becomes fresh, delicate and beautiful. With regular practice of meditation:

▪ Emotional stability improves

▪ Creativity increases

▪ Happiness increases

▪ Intuition develops

▪ Increase in mental clarity

▪ Sharpens the mind by increasing focus

▪ Slows aging of your mind

▪ Can help with improving relationships

How do you tell the difference between concentration and meditation? If there is awareness of distraction, you are concentrating and not meditating. The calm achieved in meditation spills over into all aspects of your life. Try practicing meditation during a hectic day at work, shopping for groceries, attempting to return/exchange holiday gifts, or even waiting in a busy queue of traffic!

Start small; set your timer for five minutes each day and build from there. Imagine yourself at this time next year after a full year of meditating! You are 100 percent pure potential, my friend! Let’s talk more next year… On behalf of all of us at YBD, wishing you and your family a safe, healthy and prosperous new year filled with love, happiness, success,  yoga and meditation!

Wellness Wednesday: Your Daily Sacred Seconds

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends!

Every morning we experience a brief, mystical period between our dreams and waking state. During this period our minds remember that all things are possible. We are given the opportunity to transition into reality without losing a sense of hope when we allow ourselves to fully listen to what our heart has to say before we even get out of bed to begin our day. Our heart space shows us that everything is interconnected- mind, body, spirit, instinct and inspiration.

In an instant we can review and collect the thoughts and attitudes we wish to deeply experience upon our day as they can help us to begin again throughout the day by reminding us how wholesome love and inspiration feels. So often our mind is quick to resort to a grueling cycle fueled by negative thoughts. However, we must remind ourselves that we never have to wait for a new day, week, month or year to begin again as we have the ability to internally adjust at anytime. If we pause to take advantage of these sacred seconds, we learn each moment we invest ourselves in becomes infused with warm intention and compassion.

At the crossing where our body and soul meet, our physical heart beats naturally in sync with the natural state of the universe. While our heart does the physical work to pump blood throughout our body we must be receptive to the spiritual work of our heart. When we focus on the rhythm and warm intention revealed by our heart, we realize how organic it feels to live purely innate. If we begin each day prioritizing our heart space we cannot help but feel the euphoric alignment of adoring the entity of life itself.

Namaste,

Angie

Mindful Monday: Dharana

Good morning, mindful ones!

We have swiftly come to our sixth yogic limb: dharana.

As each stage prepares us for the next, the practice of pratyahara creates the setting for dharana, or immovable concentration of the mind. The root of the word is “dhar” which means to hold, maintain or keep.

As the sixth limb of yoga, dharana is the practice of holding one’s mind onto a particular inner state or topic. We fix the mind on a single pointed focus, such as breath, the small space above the upper lip, or navel, without allowing the mind to  wander through memories, reflective thoughts, bodily sensations.

Through the disciplines of the previous limbs, we’ve definitely begun to develop our powers of concentration. Through yamas and niyamas, we’ve begun directing our attention.

Through asanas, we have begun to temper the body and focus on specific and more subtle sensations. Through pranayama, we begin the task of refining our minds. Through pratyahara, we bring our senses under control and are still enough to become more observant of the mind. In dharana, concentration on a single point becomes effortless. You know the mind is concentrating when there is no sense of time passing. Extended periods of concentration naturally lead to meditation or dhyana, which is the seventh limb of yoga.

Now we truly begin to unleash the great potential for inner healing.

Namaste, sweet yogis. Here’s to a beautiful, mindful week filled with awareness and intention.

November 2019 Pose of the Month: Prapadasana or Tip Toe Pose

Hey yogis! Wow! Hard to believe that November is here!! We are in the last weeks of 2019! The end of a great decade.

Our  November 2019 POTM is Prapadasana or “tip toe pose.”

This pose, like life, requires focus, balance and a strong determination.

How to do Prapadasana / Tip Toe Pose?

1. Begin in Tadasana / Mountain Pose.

2. Exhale and come into Malasana / Garland Pose.

3. Bring your feet together and slowly lift your heels off the floor.

4. Balance your body on your toes and keep your back straight. 

5. Bring your palms together and focus in between your eyebrows.

6. Stay in this pose for 3 to 6 long breaths.

To come out of this pose, bring your heels down and come back into Tadasana / Mountain Pose.

Here’s why you should do it:

Improves concentration and sense of balance.

Strengthens the core, feet, ankles, calves, knees and thighs.

Stretches the hip flexors, hamstrings and groins.

Stimulates the Muladhara / Root Chakra.

Do it with a friend!

Wellness Wednesday: Your Season’s Flourishing Radiance

Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends!

With the sudden drop in temperatures and overcast skies we often have the tendency to view the next few months with nuisance as we attempt to stay warm and content. Like reading quotes for motivation, we refer to nature for inspiration and lessons. We can gain so much wisdom in the dormant months.

Like any seasoned gardener knows, the seeds that create flourishing plants requires a cold period in order to germinate. Some seeds require a drop in temperature in order to break it’s dormancy. The season’s cycle of harsh conditions exercises the shell of the seed until it has the strength to blossom. Just like seeds, we too, are mentally, emotionally and energetically challenged as we experience less sunlight and stressful holidays. Us humans seek for light both literally and figuratively. It can be dispiriting to begin the frigid months knowing we may not see very much sunlight. The natural cycle may wrongfully inspire us to isolate ourselves to those around us and reflect on past hurts. However a change in perspective is all it takes to change our moment and this period of dormancy may actually be the perfect time to learn to cultivate internal light. It is a grueling phase of growth that we have no control over. Perhaps this is the reason we do not celebrate our progress much the same as brighter periods of our life. In spite of it all, we, too, must endure periods of darkness to experience light- both self made and received by others.

Searching for joy at this time may encourage us to harvest the intimate connections we have. Our desire to spread warmth may infuse with those in our surroundings becoming a synergistic effect. Our ability to internally adjust may allow us to send the genuine love we all thrive off of as intimacy denotes mutual trust between one another. We discover the more we give, the more we receive only to create a cycle of trust and affirmation that nourishes itself. By surrendering to the process we can trust there is always warmth, warmth we can radiate to all beings around us.

Namaste!

Angie