Beginning a Meditation Practice

I tried meditating once about 7 or 8 years ago. All I remember about the experience is sitting in a candlelit room with a bunch of strangers and having the instructor softly tell us to “empty our minds” over and over again. Every time she instructed us to do this, my teeth clenched a little tighter. You see my mind was full of random thoughts that were ping-ponging all over my brain and refusing to go away, no matter how hard I fought against them. It was a very frustrating experience so I proclaimed myself “bad at meditation” and didn’t try again. Until now. I’m not sure what sparked it but I have become fascinated with meditation recently and I now know that emptying our minds is not necessary, or even necessarily recommended, for a fulfilling meditation practice.

Why have I finally started flirting with meditation? For so many reasons but I guess a few of the main ones are these:

  • The feeling that so many of us live in our heads, cut off from the signals that our bodies are valiantly trying to give us.
  • Sleepwalking through so much of my day, not feeling present and not fully experiencing my life.
  • Internet addiction. The opposite of being mindful and present. Next time  you’re out in public, on transit or just walking down the street, really observe how many people are glued to their phones, missing out on the real world around them.
  • I’ve heard it can be anti-aging (anything to keep the botox and fillers at bay!)

And I’ve been practicing on my own in my little living room. I’ve been lighting candles and playing rainforest music in the background to set the stage. Every time I meditate, I find it easier to sink into my body. Memories of old pain come up once in awhile and I sit with it and accept it and listen to what it has to tell me. Sometimes the pain comes up several times before it goes away. I’m patient and loving and stay with it until it transforms into something else (even if this takes days or weeks).

Also, I’ve recently learned how to do a Loving Kindness Meditation and I’ll like to share it with you:

Loving Kindness Meditation

This practice involves silently repeating phrases that offer good things to yourself and to others.

  1. You can start by thinking about your own goodness—remembering things you have done out of good-heartedness and celebrating the potential for goodness we all share.
  2. Silently repeat phrases that reflect what we wish most deeply for ourselves (and others). Traditional phrases are:
    • May I live in safety.
    • May I have peace and joy in my life.
    • May I have good health and freedom from pain.
    • May I live with ease.
  3. Say the phrases with enough space and silence between so they fall into a rhythm that feels natural to you.
  4. Each time you notice your attention has wandered, be kind to yourself. Notice the distraction and either let it go or realize that it is here for you to stay with and, think about. When you’re ready, come back to repeating the phrases without any judgement toward yourself.
  5. After some time, visualize yourself in the center of a circle composed of those who have been kind to you, or have inspired you because of their love and guidance. They are your circle. As you visualize yourself in the center of it, experience yourself as the recipient of their love and attention. Keep gently repeating the phrases of loving kindness for yourself.
  6. To close the session, let go of the visualization, and simply keep repeating the phrases for a few more minutes. Each time you do so, you are transforming your old, hurtful relationship to yourself, and are moving forward, to a presence full of love.

And that is it. A simple, loving-kindness meditation. If you try it, please let me know how it goes in the comment section. Namaste xo

The perfect yoga pose

A friend and I took a break in our Sunday beach run to do a few yoga stretches today. Here is one of the pics.

When I look at this photo I see a woman being goofy, maybe dancing in the rain, but what I’m actually doing is falling out of a yoga pose. A pose that I couldn’t quite master, no matter how hard or how many times I tried. I remember thinking, after failing again and again, that I had two options, get angry with myself or laugh at the situation. Clearly I chose the latter.

Thinking back to when I started practicing yoga about 15 years ago, I approached my practice with a humourless quest for perfection ~ hyper-extending my legs and frequently checking my neighbors with a sideways glance to see if I was doing better than them. I couldn’t have been more misguided if I tried. It took years for me to realize that yoga wasn’t at all about perfection or even form sometimes. It was about showing up regularly and making a commitment to starting a journey with myself. It was about relaxing into and accepting myself ~ my body, my limitations ~ and even laughing at and learning to love myself. And when I realized this, that is when my yoga practice finally opened up and became a source of joy for me. So here’s to falling out of crooked, imperfect yoga poses and loving it because every stumble is an important part of the journey. Your journey. Namaste.

Salad Days of Summer

My patio is my summer sanctuary, surrounded by trees and filled with herbs, tomatoes, wheat grass and lavender. With my little Terrier resting at my feet, it’s my favourite place to have dinner on a warm summer night.

patio 030

patio 020

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And my favourite dinner? A great, big Farmer’s Market salad, like this one..

patio 058

Did you know that summer berries are the best way to get antioxidant, fiber rich, vitamin filled goodness into your body? Put them in smoothies and salads, add a little avocado (full of omega 3 fat) and watch your skin glow.

Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 pinch salt

A Life That Feels Good: Step One

 

Create a life that feels good on the inside not one that just looks good on the outside. – Unknown

Step One: Unplug

Ever since I started my Online Marketing studies last fall, I’ve been hyper-plugged into the internet and spend hours and hours online every day. On top of working on a computer most of the day at the office, I go home, walk the dog, eat dinner and then turn on my laptop and TV around 7:30 or 8pm (with my iphone resting right beside me, beeping periodically with notifications). I try to turn both off at 11pm but, more often than not, it’s midnight by the time I shut everything down. I usually plan on being online for maybe an hour or so and then I get sucked into Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and, of course, our wonderful WordPress. Before I know it, it’s 11pm and I haven’t even started my homework, so I do an hour of work online and then finally off to bed, with my eyes burning and brain racing.

Since I’ve started this routine, I’ve noticed my sleep has become, well, let’s say not restful at best and often I wake up exhausted. So, what do I do then? I make a ridiculously strong pot of coffee that gives me a quick, jarring boost of energy (with some jittery anxiety added in) and, boom, I’m stuck in a vicious, energy-draining cycle.

And, maybe even worse than my tired, bleery-eyed mornings, I’m worried that with all of my social media activity, I might eventually become one of those people who put more effort into their online image than their real, honest to goodness, life. You know, the ones who post constantly, usually about the fabulous places they’re going and amazing things they’re doing with hourly selfies to chronicle their adventures. Do we really even enjoy those amazing experiences if we’re almost compulsively concentrating on facebooking and tweeting and instagramming our every move?

I know it’s been scientifically proven that we all get a big hit of feel-good dopamine with all of those social media “likes” on our posts but we also get that hit of dopamine by connecting with the flesh and blood people we’re hanging out with too. But that only happens if we actually stop checking our smartphones and give ourselves a chance to connect with them (I’m really guilty of this bad behaviour too).

Anywayyy, I’ve decided it’s high time to take a step back and tackle this internet dependency of mine.

How will I do it, you ask? Like this:

  1. One hour of laptop time in the evening.  No matter how enticing Pinterest and Facebook are, one hour only. No excuses. I’ll remind myself that social media sites will continue to thrive without my constant input.
  2. Put my iPhone in a kitchen drawer. No social media/internet surfing allowed after 8pm. The phone will only be taken out of the drawer if someone calls and then put right back in again.
  3. For the moment, no TV. I binge watched three hours of the Kardashians last Sunday and then watched a new show about horrific plastic surgery mistakes and addicts (the people who just won’t quit no matter how big their lips/breasts/cheeks get) called Botched and, by the end of the evening, I think I felt my IQ drop a couple of points. No more reality TV for me. My goal is to keep the television unplugged for the summer and, in the fall, decide if I plug it back in or not.

And what will I fill all of my “unplugged” spare time with? Music, reading, daydreaming and much, much more, of this:

dog at beach

couple at beach

heron

beach sunset

vancouver twilight

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt