Yoga & turning inward

Happy Saturday my friends. What will you do with this beautiful day? I just hiked with my mom… I am so lucky to have her near me, both of us be fit and capable of hiking, and live in a place that is seventy plus degrees in winter. I am filled with gratitude as I reflect on the beautiful morning we had connecting & being in nature.

Yoga with Mamma

That said, I want to apologize for my absence. I committed to a post per week when I started this blog last year. I have been closer to a post per month since the holidays. It’s that balance thing again. On the one hand I love getting sucked into the latest project or relationship and soaking up all the beauty of the present as I immerse into FLOW. On the other hand, I do not want things I love or value to fall to the wayside. Can you think of a time you experienced FLOW?

In positive psychology, FLOW, also known as ZONE, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. Named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields, though has existed for thousands of years in other guises, notably in some eastern religions.

-Wikipedia.org

For now, I am accepting my sporadic posting & relishing in abundance of other joys in my life. I still intend to set more goals around & improve my blogging skills in the future! Baby steps. I recently had coffee (no, tea actually – delicious tea with steamed, fresh almond milk & honey) with a dear friend who generously shared some amazing insights into the blogging world. Have you heard of SEO? New concept for me, but totally logical. Anyways, I am rambling off topic, just to say, I have much to learn about the online & blogging world.

Warrior Woman Yoga

In my absence from posting, I have been looking at my life and identifying areas I want to give more attention. I am learning that to grow, achieve my goals & realize my full potential I must emphasize personal development. Refuse to be stagnant or unchanged. Always challenge myself to become a better person. So I have been looking inward. Working on improving the consistency of meditation, my anxiety is alleviated and sense of peace elevate. I have a better understanding of myself, feelings & desires when I take the time to be quiet and listen. Check out my post on meditation for more on what I do in my practice.

Lotus Meditation: Yoga on John

But lately, it has been yoga. I love yoga – the safe place of self-love that is my mat, the joining with others for greater peace within & worldwide, the strength that shows up when you least expect it, the calming of the inner chatter that mindful breathing encourages… I could go on and on. I have been trying out a new hot yoga studio this month & enjoying the new faces, challenge & re-commitment to this practice. I left my previous studio in the summer to get outside more to hike, develop my personal practice further & save on the costs of going to a studio.

Yoga in Solitude

All this yoga has been encouraging and reminding me to look inward. My recent introspection has given me greater confidence in who I am & the goals I am setting for this year and beyond. When regularly looking inward and simply being with myself, I find grounding, purpose & confidence.

Yoga with an Open Heart

Another cool thing about yoga – it is for everyone. There is no room for judgment of the self or others. Yoga holds a different experience for everyone yet brings us together. Most studios have free intro classes, so if you have never tried a class I encourage & challenge you to do it! Get outside your comfort zone – this is where change will happen! Even if you don’t go to a class, just starting the day with a couple loving stretches or winding down the evening with a mini bedside practice can make a big difference in your peace, your day & your life.

Celebrating with Yoga

Lastly, here is one of my favorite people finding some balance & strength in yoga…

Early Morning Yoga

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The International Day of Peace: September 21, 2014

Guess what?

This Sunday, September 21, 2014 is the 33rd anniversary of The International Day of Peace. I bet you already knew that after reading the title of this post. But, what an important thing to be aware of! I just found this out thanks to my local chapter of TM (read more here about Transcendental Meditation). They are organizing a group meditation for peace that I am planning to attend this Sunday.

I am looking forward to connecting with my community and meditating on peace & love. Our world needs more of these things. Meditation is a small step that we can take to find greater peace within & thus send more peace out into the world.

The president of the Global Union of Scientists for Peace, John Hagelin, discusses how meditation is a key factor in the Global Peace Initiative:

“Violent behavior is rooted in the brain. The only way to prevent violent behavior is to restore balanced brain functioning. The Brain-Based Approach to Peace restores balanced neurological functioning on the individual & global scale.”

If you are interested in reading more about how the brain & behavior are linked, or just want to better understand how you can directly influence Peace through meditation, check out the Global Peace Initiative website as it breaks down this brain-based approach for reducing violence & global conflict. It explains the science behind & reasons why every person who meditates can make a big impact on global peace.

“It means that only a few thousand individuals are needed to produce an extremely powerful & scientifically demonstrable effect of orderliness & calm in the surrounding society – even on a national or global scale.”

-Global Peace Initiative

This day encourages us all to look at ways that we can make a difference. So often I hear folks (& my own internal dialogue) talk about how insignificant their actions are or how they are not wealthy or powerful enough to make change. Every small effort we make contributes to the whole. Awareness. Action. Compassion. Love. We can all send positive ripple effects out into our universe. We must believe we make a difference.

If you want to find creative ways to celebrate the International Day of Peace  or find events near you check out the official website for more information!

I want to share some photos of places that have inspired Peace…

peace4 peace5 peace3 peace2 peace1

Meditation: finding peace within

It’s Tuesday. Monday was tough. Life is tough, sometimes. It is also beautiful & wonderful. There are highs & lows. So much joy. And sorrow. Everything whirls by at such a fast pace unless we intentionally slow things down. Practice mindfulness. Live in the present moment.

I am happy I made it to Yoga yesterday. I think it had been almost three weeks since I made it to class. When I’m not going I start thinking about the wasted membership money & consider quitting. I could practice at home, right? But then I go to a class & remember. Reconnecting with the yoga community and syncing my mind & body re-inspires & motives me.

meditation

Another way I slow down and find peace within is through meditation. Before I knew much about meditation, I thought it was more of an alternative lifestyle (just for hippies, right?) and that it would be difficult to learn. My mind is usually racing with endless thoughts and “clearing” it seemed impossible. But, as stress & anxiety continued to build in my adult life, I knew I had to do something to manage it. Eating well & exercising wasn’t enough to combat the negative effects of too much stress. So with guidance (my hippie mamma who grew up meditating in the 70’s) & instruction (a knowledgeable & inspirational teacher) I began meditating two years ago.

The technique I learned was simple. Meditate using a mantra for twenty minutes, twice a day. First to start the day off right (soon after waking up) & again to transition into the evening (right after work). With education & support from my teacher I felt connected & at ease with the method. To learn more about the Transcendental Meditation technique I learned watch this short clip from Good Morning America. You can also check out the official TM website for lots of information, research & videos!

I have enjoyed many benefits from regular meditation including elevated mood, increased patience with others, more frequent feelings of joy, greater ability to regulate emotions and relief from anxiety symptoms. I am excited about the continued potential for regular meditation to strengthen my relationships, increase creativity & clarity, and be a vehicle for growth & positive change.

What I love most about meditating is that it builds inner peace & the ability to contribute to a more peaceful world – the ripple effect. Thich Nhat Hanh talks about this & gives strategies for practicing mindfulness in daily life in the book Peace Is Every Step:

Practicing mindfulness in each moment of our daily lives, we can cultivate our own peace. With clarity, determination, and patience-the fruits of meditation-we can sustain a life of action and be real instruments of peace. I have seen this peace in people of various religious and cultural backgrounds who spend their time… watering the trees of love and understanding throughout the world.

There are lots of methods out there so do some research to find out what is best for you! For me, this works. As long as I practice regularly. So, this is my committment to one week of regular meditation. Scheduling in self-care & making healthy choices a priority in our daily routine is essential. A week is short enough to be realistic & long enough to re-commit myself to a practice that brings great joy & calm to my life.

oaks in the sky

Let me know what meditation techniques you love & the benefits you have found through adding a meditation practice into your life!