NOW is the time is the answer. What was the question? Read on.
Here is the secret to starting and maintaining a home meditation practice.
(Ok, it's not REALLY a secret.)
These are three questions I get asked all the time by my students:
“How do I keep my home meditation practice going?”
“How do I START a home meditation practice?”
“Why am I able to do fine in meditation class but when I try to do it at home my practice just falls apart?”
These questions have a common theme.
Here are some answers that work for me. I'll bet they will work for you, too. And if not, try something else. There is plenty of information out there.
The blanket answer is “you’re trying too hard”.
You’re putting so much pressure on yourself to meditate at a certain time of the day, for a certain amount of time, and in a certain way.
What I have discovered over the years, and I addressed in a previous post, is that meditation is more and easier than you may think.
If you have a place you can designate for meditation, that’s great.
If you think about it your entire home is an opportunity to meditate.
Try the sofa, the lounge chair, the chaise outside on the patio, a soft patch of grass in your yard, or anywhere you can put a blanket or cushion.
I’ve even sat on my carpeted stairs, in a dining chair, on the floor on the rug or on the porch stoop for a quick meditation.
Then there is the question and pressure of how long you need to meditate?
I say as long as you can meditate.
I am the last person to ever tell you if you don’t meditate for X amount of time, or more, that it is fruitless or you might as well not bother.
If ANYONE tells you that kindly excuse yourself.
I went to a 4-day silent meditation retreat run by a very well known organization. The silent part was wonderful. Eating outdoors in silence, staying silent in the residence, and meditating in silence was a gift.
What I couldn’t wrap my mind around was that I was instructed to meditate in one way and one way only. I was instructed that this was the only correct way to meditate.
It didn’t feel right then and it doesn’t feel right now.
I certainly don’t instruct my students, or any teachers I train, that it’s my way or the highway.
Needless to say, I enjoyed my time at the retreat but I have never returned.
Meditation looks and feels many, many different ways.
How do I know this?
Through trial and error as a practitioner and through trial and error as a teacher.
I see what works for a broad cross-section of students over and over again.
I have been meditating for 27 years and I have gotten as much out of a 5-minute meditation as a two-hour meditation.
Now to answer the first question:
“How do I keep my home practice going?”
Do you like how good you feel during a meditation, yoga or Tai Chi class?
Grab that good feeling, take what you have learned in class, or through research online, and plunk yourself down in a chair, on a mat or in the grass. Without pressuring yourself replicate what you can.
If you have a semi-regular practice at home, that's great. Find other times to do it outside of what you already are accomplishing.
Once something is a habit - and it takes about 21 days to form a habit - your mind, and body will crave it. That goes for good and not-so-good habits.
I’ll tack my meditation sessions onto the end of my workouts. I’ll meditate in between chapters of a book I am reading. If I am having my tea on the lanai, which happens to face a lake, it is SO easy to float right into a meditation - birds chirping, fish splashing, water flowing - those are focus points for a relaxing meditation.
Binge-watching a show on Netflix? Close your eyes and do deep breathing between episodes!
Of course, it would be optimum if you carved out time to sit in meditation and formally meditate.
Choose a quiet room without much noise or traffic
Pick a chair that you like, one that is comfortable enough to sit in for a while. I guarantee the next thing you know you will have been sitting for 30 minutes. It flies by.
I did a lot of chanting and mantra at the beginning of my meditation journey. It kept me really present and engaged and I couldn’t THINK while I was repeating the words.
Pop in a chanting CD, or stream one.
Do you want to light a candle? DO IT!
Incense? Why not?
Set the mood.
When you set the mood, and make yourself a space, it will have more meaning for you. It puts you in the meditation frame of mind.
Question number 2:
“How do I start a home practice?”
This is totally up to you.
But starting is 50% of doing home meditation.
TODAY IS THE DAY!
Do some research, take some classes.
Try things on and see what fits.
Bring them ALL home.
After that, experiment with different types of meditations, in different locations in your home, for different amounts of time.
You may also do one technique for a while and then try something new.
The point is TRY IT and try it long enough to see what works for you.
Don’t just meditate once for 5 minutes, say “this isn’t working, I still have thoughts and I'm not getting any more peaceful” and then quit.
That’s not meditating.
That is letting your brain dictate to you:
“What shall I make for dinner?”
“Did I mail that bill?”
…and on and on and on.
That’s the brain fighting YOU making IT more peaceful.
Your brain is used to go, go, go. It even gets used to chaos.
That means you need to retrain your brain.
When your brain and mind is more peaceful then your body will be more peaceful, too.
Meditating at the VERY least is being in the moment and focusing on something:
A mantra, a chant, a quote, a candle, water flowing, birds flying, petting your dog, music, the wind blowing, deep breathing, and YES, even silence
…it’s pretty limitless.
Let your brain get used to being relieved of the watch for a few moments. You will continue to have thoughts, but let go of the activity of THINKING for a while.
It’s a thought, BIG DEAL. It will be there when you are done. And if not, most likely it will return. OR not.
Find opportunities during your day to get into a meditative state.
Snippets of time will turn into moments and then minutes and the next thing you know you will be in that state of mind for many minutes, hours, days - for LIFE!
And last, but certainly not least, here’s my answer to question number 3:
“Why am I able to do fine in meditation class but when I try to do it at home my practice just stalls?”
Time, commitments, family, work, illness, vacations - YOU NAME IT - interfere with us bringing home what we do in class.
SO here is where the three questions overlap.
Take the time, make the time, schedule it, carve it out…
How badly do you need it?
If you are asking yourself any of these questions, I imagine that you need it.
It’s not that hard to sit in a class and follow what a teacher instructs.
What IS hard is to make meditation, in its many forms, a priority along with brushing your teeth, doing the laundry, preparing meals, etc.
Your mental, emotional, physical, psychological and (if it applies to you) spiritual health is just as important as anything else that you tend to.
Jump right in.
NOW is a good time.
Still doing splits at 57! (In 4 states!) Flexibility is fundamental.
I began thinking and talking about it long before Dove made it “a thing”.
Why would any of us want to ANTI age?
Be AGAINST aging?
I know there are many people who don’t want to age.
THAT is IMPOSSIBLE no matter how hard you try.
Wouldn't you rather age than the alternative?
And by the alternative, I mean death.
Or is “die young, stay pretty”, the preferred option?
I am extremely passionate about aging intelligently.
What do I mean by that?
You can age intelligently by caring for your skin, your mind, your body, your relationships, your career and your health.
We have to get out of the mindset that "aging is a curse".
Live a good life, have fun, take care of yourself, be loving, make a contribution. That is real beauty!
I'm just one of those women who can’t wrap her mind around “anti-aging”.
Believe me, after being in the entertainment industry for 35 years this was a hard mountain to scale.
This is an industry that pushes the idea that the only beauty is young beauty.
Is it Vanity?
All of the above?
We can all spot from a mile away the person who has had so much work done on their face or their body that they don’t look real.
And let’s face it (lol, pun intended), a 70-year-old woman with an extreme facelift still does NOT look 40.
Plus, no 50 year old, who has overdosed on fillers, will ever look 25.
I wholeheartedly support taking care of yourself.
Get facials, Dermabrasion, Dermaplaning, some Botox, muscle stimulation and any of the non-invasive procedures.
Exercise, eat healthy foods - be a health fanatic - but going under the knife, sometimes again and again and again, seems to me to be another addiction.
Is one ever REALLY satisfied after they get on that merry-go-round?
Have we become such an insecure society that we only care about how others see us and that influences how we see ourselves?
My grandfather, on every one of his birthdays, would always say that he would rather be having a birthday than not!
It took me a while to get there and now I feel exactly the same way.
As we age, granted, everything isn’t still in its original place.
We may not have what we had in our teens, twenties or thirties.
BUT if we really think about it most likely we have more.
Some of the most inspirational people I know and observe are not in those age categories.
That is not because I am of a certain age, either, because I have friends in their 20’s to their 80’s.
It's incredible to see beautiful people inside and out who aren’t in their teens, 20’s, 30’s.
When was it decided that only youth was beautiful?
Is it a North American or western phenomenon?
In my teens, twenties, and 30’s I didn’t give aging a second thought.
I was too busy with my career, and in my VERY late 30's having, then raising a child.
Those age groups weren’t getting bombarded with the notion that one tiny wrinkle or a grey hair is a fatality.
We also weren’t inundated with the products on the market to keep us perpetually 25.
When did that happen?
Skin care IS important. Mostly so we don’t get skin cancer, which is a hell of a lot worse than a wrinkle. I have never met anyone who died from a wrinkle.
With age comes wisdom. YES! It's CLICHÉ but it's true.
Maybe wisdom doesn't come to everyone over the age of 40 but those years are life experiences and life experiences teach us.
Then again, I am constantly marveling at the wisdom of my young friends. Natural, innate wisdom that did not come with age but just from within.
Who decided for me that my laugh lines were ugly?
That my silver hair makes me old?
OR the fact that I am not still wafer thin makes me less than?
It certainly wasn’t me.
BUT the pressures I have felt and see my friends experiencing are an uphill battle.
When did we lose our talent, creativity, abilities, and exuberance because we turned the corner of 40 or 50?
I remember I was out one evening in Vancouver, Canada with girlfriends between the ages of 40 and 60.
We were having a great time going dancing, hopping from restaurant to club, to coffee house.
We were laughing and joking and having an AMAZING time.
At one point in the evening, we were all crossing the street, and a group of 20 something women was crossing at the same time.
They started pointing at us, laughing and making jokes about us.
One of my friends turned around and shouted “What are you laughing at? We’re YOU in 20 years!”
Well, that shut them the F up.
If those ladies are LUCKY they will be anything like us in 20 years.
We were a group of attractive, accomplished, talented, vital, vibrant and SEXY woman.
We had life experience.
We were walking, talking, living, breathing, oozing experience.
If anyone needed to be laughing, it was us. At the naivety, the judgment, the arrogance, the ignorance, and stupidity…
But we didn’t because we accepted those young ladies for who they were on their journey right at that moment.
WE are still open to learning from ALL ages.
All this being said I strongly advocate for self-care and self-nurturing.
I believe in eating right, exercising, meditating, being grateful, making a contribution somewhere, going for it, going with the flow and making your mark (whatever that is) at ALL ages.
I am so thrilled to have my older women friends to learn from and to absorb THEIR wisdom.
What I am not thrilled to have is pressure to be someone else’s idea and image of perfection. AT ANY AGE.
So go ahead and use those potions and lotions (cuz soft skin feels GREAT), but don’t lose sight of your beauty inside and out.
Don’t let someone else tell you what aging and beauty is.
That is up to you.
Find your support system and nurture it.
“Smell the roses.”
‘Grab for the gusto.”
“Go for it.”
‘You do you.”
Be YOUR best self.
AND never let someone else define you - at ANY AGE!
My wish for you is long and luscious PRO-aging.
As always, thanks for reading.
If you are interested in having me write for your publication:
If you are interested in having me train members of the staff at your facility or in your community on my original moving meditation technique:
There are so many quotes I love about living an authentic life.
“You do you.” (My son laid that one on me a little while ago. It was intense. Wisdom comes at all ages.)
“Be the best you that you can be.”
Liza Minelli said:
“I would rather present a first-rate version of myself than a second-rate version of Mama.”
Quote above the Temple of Apollo at Delphi”
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.”
*My comment on this is: if you realize you ARE enough, you are truly rich.
And here is one by a more modern day philosopher:
“If you don’t know yourself, you don’t know your nature. If you don’t know your nature, you don’t know where to exist. By knowing your nature, knowing yourself, you know what to be and how to live. And that only comes from knowledge of self, knowing yourself.”
AND to quote The Who:
“ Who are you? Who the fuck are you?”
How long does it take to know yourself?
Which would you choose?
What DOES it take to know ourselves?
Do we really want to know?
I can only answer that question for myself.
What it has taken for me and what it may take for you may be VERY different.
We invent ourselves depending on our circumstances and the road we are traveling.
We also reinvent ourselves when we see that “persona” isn’t getting as much attention as it once did; or none at all.
We morph ourselves into what we THINK or believe is needed for our job, our relationships, and our social media.
What if everyone was BRAVE enough to drop the pretense, drop what you THINK others want and just be ourselves?
First, do we have any idea who we are?
What really makes us tick?
What are our strengths, our weaknesses?
Are we willing to even admit that we have weaknesses, idiosyncrasies, foibles, flaws (both internally and externally), shortcomings and imperfections?
We are very happy to reveal the GREAT things about ourselves and our lives, but what about the not-so-great things?
In your life and your chosen profession, career, or art there will ALWAYS be someone who is better looking, more accomplished and more talented than you; AND there will ALWAYS be someone who is not as good looking, less accomplished and less talented than you.
That is just life.
We have put ourselves under so much pressure, to look a certain way, feel a certain way, to make sure we present ourselves in a certain light to others, AND not to age.
Ok, if you aren’t a nice or good person, and you are WILLING to admit that, then there is some work that has to be done BEFORE you can be on the way to self-discovery.
It is a part of self-discovery to admit you are a flawed or a difficult person, BUT the real you and the good you IS in there. It may be covered up in pain, hurt, anger and feeling devalued.
BUT IT IS IN THERE!
PLUS, the concept that anyone can be calm, cool and collected all the time isn’t reality.
I have seen the most self-actualized, present, and focused person lose it.
We have emotions.
Many of us have A LOT of emotions.
There is nothing wrong with emotions. It’s when those emotions control you, and detour you from living a more healthy life, that we need to examine them.
Is happy all the time possible?
Is it even healthy?
I don’t believe it is.
Insisting on happy all the time is denying the ups and downs of life. It is unsustainable.
We ALL have ups and downs, ALL of us.
Look at all of our great leaders; especially the non-violent leaders.
You still see pain, frustration, and anger.
However, it is how they managed it and what they knew about themselves.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, (and still today The Dalai Lama) they all had really, REALLY horrific days when they were working for justice and equality.
They suffered and they knew they were suffering.
They didn’t wallow in it. They took action over themselves and that stood as examples for others.
We allow our external world to dictate how happy, talented, intelligent, attractive, fit or valuable we are.
As for me, I have to call Bullshit on that.
SIDEBAR: Let’s get this right out in the open.
My nearest and dearest know this about me and don’t judge me. I have been afraid to show this side of me to the general public.
This is my new dedication to me being me.
You might be saying in this day and age "SO WHAT? We all do. Everybody does in his or her writing and videos."
I'm not everybody.
I was born in a time where it was not as acceptable or common-place.
I was taught that intelligent people don't swear.
WELLLL, I hate to disagree but some of the most brilliant people I know have been known to toss around a profanity, or two...or three.
It is powerful and sometimes really important for emphasis. That is me, and I trust you are ok with that.
If not, that’s fine but that’s not going to change ME!
I don’t pepper every sentence with profanity but I use it optimally.
If it is against your religion or your beliefs to swear or read anything containing profanity, I respect that. (And don’t read on.)
It’s just not me.
That is one of the acceptances of my authenticity.
I was so concerned that I would be judged as a meditation teacher or teacher, of any kind if I used profanity when I felt it was crucial. As they say “I’m over it”. (Let me clarify: unless I am teaching youth. I know the boundaries.)
Have you seen Osho’s video on the work f#@!? Oh, forget it...fuck...there I said it! It’s hilarious and a great lesson. If you aren’t familiar with Osho, Google him. He has wonderful present-day insights on life, mindfulness and the Science of Inner Being. He is not perfect and he knows it. He makes no pretense. Like him, don’t like him, it’s your choice. Isn’t that WONDERFUL!??!! Isn’t that LIBERATING??!!!
Another topic I want to introduce is what I call PRO-AGING.
Why are we so against aging???
If we are really fortunate we will all age, because there is only one alternative to aging.
My grandfather would say every year on his birthday: “I’d rather be having a birthday, than not”. Sadly, He is no longer having them.
Embrace your age. With age does come wisdom, experience, knowledge and insight, if we allow it.
With age also comes laugh lines. I prefer those to frown lines.
Here is what my authentic self is going to talk about in my upcoming posts:
Making meditation part of your daily life. It's easier than you think and most likely you are already doing it.
My journey teaching in juvenile justice and excerpts from my book and screenplay.
My current and former creative and artistic influences.
What got us where we are today?
Watch as I learn to play new percussion instruments. Join in with me!
The hilarity and frustration - mostly hilarity - of learning new languages.
My world travels with my husband. YES, he will finally peak out his head. He’s a bit social media shy.
Our Zen Master Chihuahua service dog. Yes, he's a REAL, trained service dog. My staunch advocacy FOR real service dogs and against fake service animals and support animals.
How I got over my vanity and ego and let my hair go silver. (By the way, I LOVE IT!)
The strange and bizarre things that shape who we are.
Having a healthy marriage later in life. Living and breathing those wedding vows.
Ideas to keep your mind and body healthy at any age.
Dealing with the death of a parent.
Dealing with the death of a beloved pet.
Having friends of all ages. (My friends, I am lucky to say, are between the ages of 19 and 90!)
Lessons learned, what we are learning, and what we are looking to learn.
Excerpts from my comedy film screenplay. First, it was a sitcom, then Hollywood got their hands on it and it took a detour into a reality series (that was paddled over a cliff), and now it's a comedy film.
Let’s talk mental health. Releasing the taboo. Did you know that one in four people deal with a mental health issue? That means someone in your life is experiencing the challenge.
Feel free to write in with suggestions, questions, and ideas for posts. IF it is a part of my life, I will write about it. If it isn't, I may still write about it!
If you liked this post or any of my other posts below PLEASE SHARE.
The more, the merrier.
As always, THANKS FOR READING!
If you are interested in me writing for your publication:
If you would like me to teach my unique and original moving meditation technique to the staff in your community or facility:
The flowers still bloomed, the sun shines and the moon rose!
I left Facebook and here’s what happened:
For personal and ethical reasons I have been working my way towards leaving Facebook for quite a long time.
I got so tired of the drama, the political backbiting, the name calling, fighting, arguing and the seeming lust for 15 minutes of fame.
I also got uncomfortable with reading so many people's deepest, darkest, personal secrets. My heart goes out to anyone dealing with life challenges. I'm just not sure I want to be privy to all of that information.
But I guess they aren't so secret since they are being displayed all over the Internet.
I’m not certain that people understand when you post online to any social media that it’s accessible by anyone, even if you mark it friends only.
The fact that Facebook has over 3 billion users means it is pervasive worldwide. It also means that what you post to your “friends” is not just to your friends. Anyone can read your posts via your friends.
SO it’s to the world.
People have gotten fired from their jobs for their posts on Facebook.
People have been caught breaking the law, and cheating on their partner.
Facebook has also allowed quite graphic videos of violence, murder and in some instances videos that are quite pornographic.
There's lots of sex, sexual Innuendo, profanity, and near nudity (oh, who am I trying to kid? Nudity.)
Don’t get me wrong I love the human body. I think nudity is gorgeous, and sex is amazing, but there are some great and not so great ways to express it.
Then there is the ethical issue. The issue of media dominance, and allowing horrible atrocities to be posted. Not to mention election improprieties, bullying, lying and covering up of said lies.
Whew. Tell us how you really feel!
Look, this is ME, not anyone else. This is what works and does not work for me.
This may or may not bother or resonate with you.
AND THAT IS FINE!
OK, that’s what bothered me about Facebook.
Here is what I loved about it:
I made a couple of friends in the 9 years I was on it.
I got a couple of introductions to potential jobs.
I saw wonderful photos, reconnected with friends, classmates, colleagues, and distant family.
I experienced vicariously the adventures, trials, tribulations, successes and failures of the aforementioned people.
I shared, collaborated and commiserated.
I also wasted A LOT of time.
Ok, that may not be a plus...
Here is what happened the couple of times I posted that I was leaving:
I was asked not to go. I was told that what I posted was really appreciated. And asked how was I going to keep up with everyone? How will I know when there are events, parties, births, and reunions?The state of the country? Won't it affect my business, or work? How can I live when "everyone", and the most important things, announcements, connections, etc., are on Facebook? Aren't I afraid I will be looked at as an outcast? Or with suspiciousness? How can I be much of a teacher, writer, artist if I'm not on Facebook? Only legitimate businesses and people are on Facebook. (I can't have a business page without a personal page. "Well, I can't go for that, no oh oh, no can do." Yep, I just dated myself.)
Here is what happened when I actually left:
Of the original 3000 people who were my Facebook "friends", I whittled those down to 1800 (this was the beginning of the end), then to 1200, then to 800. I knew every one of them. Maybe we weren't pals or close but I personally knew them all.
I gathered emails and phone numbers, posted my Instagram, and LinkedIn page links. (Yes, I know Instagram is owned by Facebook, but it is just such a kinder, gentler, social media).
I downloaded my archive.
I made a commitment to connect in different ways with my Facebook friends.
Then one day I just left. No fanfare, no parting gifts, just poof.
Mind you, this was not without Facebook asking me about half a dozen times if I knew what I was doing? They posted photos of my friends telling me who would miss me. (Those who really ARE my friends actually have a life with me outside of Facebook.)
"Are you sure you want to leave? You will miss out on x, y or z..."
In the final stages I could deactivate my account and it would take two weeks for it to be deleted.
Maybe I would have second thoughts and in a moment of weakness I would log on and that would start the two week clock ticking again.
This time there was no crying wolf, and there was nothing anyone could say that would change my mind.
I had already moved on and broken the addiction.
And it was an addiction.
I wasn't on every day but I fell into the "check in with Facebook" trap when I could have been doing so many other things.
LIKE just sitting there and taking a few deep breaths.
getting on a yoga mat and stretching for a few minutes.
picking up the phone and texting, calling or SKYPING with someone.
So what REALLY happened?
NOT A DAMN THING.
People I was already in touch with outside of Facebook have stayed in touch with me.
And most people that were not in touch with me outside of Facebook have not communicated with me. AND THAT'S OK!!
There are plenty of ways to communicate with me if desired.
I haven't eradicated my presence online or through social media. I'm just selective.
It hasn't affected my teaching, writing, or musical endeavors whatsoever.
As a matter of fact, I have taken up a few more percussion instruments. I spend a lot more time writing, meditating, DANCING!!
I am learning new languages, studying online for a Philosophy course certification, a sound therapy course and deepening my relationships on a more one-on-one basis.
Sure, there are those who told me that they only used Facebook, and messaged and communicated via Facebook.
That had no effect on me.
That is their choice and this is mine.
I sent a newsletter to 161 people, including many from my Facebook days, and I heard from about 30 of them. Some told me personally, later on, that they had read my newsletter and enjoyed it.
I understand those who need the interaction of something like Facebook for whatever reason.
I don't judge. Use it as you see fit.
Facebook is happy to have as many members as they can. Members mean money, and lots of it.
It's business, just business.
For each attrition there are new users.
Facebook isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
However, for me, there IS life after Facebook.
And a damn good one.
As always thanks for reading!
If you are interested in having me write for your publication;
If you are interested in learning my original moving meditation technique to teach in your community or facility:
Meditate on this. It's THAT simple!
Moving meditation is not necessarily what you might think.
Yes, it may include Qigong, Tai Chi, yoga, martial arts, or Zhan Zhang (the Chinese art of standing like a post).
It also may include sitting meditation with breath and movement exercises like in Kundalini (a yoga all to itself).
But, and here is the big BUT, it also is how you live your life. How the thoughts move around inside your head and are expressed in your emotions and actions.
It is where you find peace, quiet and a sense of balance.
That may be while walking, eating, playing with your children, your dog or cat, riding a horse, sitting in a park, being by a body of water, reading a book or perhaps just sitting alone in silence
It’s how you deal with external stimuli, irritants, confrontation and disruptions.
Moving meditation is the BIG and the small picture.
It is at the height of an argument with your parent, sibling, partner, spouse, colleague or boss and how you deal with it. It is when you are just passing time or zoning out.
That has been MY meditation for the last week on dealing with an interminably difficult family member. Someone I can’t just walk away from. Someone who won’t change and has always suffered from a personality disorder.
My conclusion? Teacher teach thyself.
Moving meditation is available in innumerable forms all the time, you just need to access it.
Taking three deep breaths (yes, you have heard about this a zillion times AND it works), staring out a window at the trees and the birds in a park, sipping a cup of tea while savoring the fragrance, the warmth and the subtle notes in taste.
You say you don’t have time?
Bull! Everyone has time for these quick and easy moments. And that is what they are — moments. Many of them simply what we do in daily life.
Daily life CAN be a meditation if you choose to make it so.
I’m not a broken record recommending that you sit quietly in a room, for 15 to 60 minutes, with your eyes closed, while focusing on your breathing and listening to some great Zen-like music.
Although that REALLY works when and if you carve out the time to do it.
I’m talking about (here comes a slightly overused phrase these days) life hacks. Make moving meditation an integral part of your day. A mind set almost as easy and effortless as breathing.
It IS a mindset just like the mind sets of “I don’t have enough time. I’m too frazzled. I just can’t focus. I’m overextended, overwhelmed, overburdened.”
Here are three simple exercises you can do, in addition to what I mentioned above.
When you take a break from your work to have your breakfast, lunch, or dinner commit to being quiet. Say nothing or as little as possible for that half an hour or hour. Just observe, listen, and hear. It can be a challenge, especially if you have a very active mind.
If you listen and observe that helps quell the internal monologue. It also can be a huge relief to spend time not speaking. I love to sit quietly and watch water reflect on a surface. The shapes are fascinating.
If you are already a quiet person who doesn’t speak very much use this time to heighten your senses.
Can you be aware of sight and smell at the same time? What about sight, smell and touch? Try sight, smell, touch and taste. Finally focus on sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound.
This is a powerful exercise and not as easy as it sounds. Try one sense at a time and then when you have that mastered add another sense and so on.
I referred to Zhan Zhang earlier. What is that and how do you do it?
In Chinese philosophy, Qigong and Tai Chi, it’s typically referred to as standing like a post. It is exactly what it says it is.
You can do it while staring out of a window, standing in an elevator, standing in the park, in your yard, in your bedroom, living room, and so many other places.
I have done it while standing waiting in line, AND when I really needed to center myself, in an airplane bathroom (but not for very long, because, well, you know about airplane bathrooms!).
Here is how you do the first position called Wuji (state of emptiness):
Standing with your feet hips width distance apart, knees slightly bent, hips tucked under slightly (you don’t want to push your hips back or have a sway back), your arms are hanging at your sides and slightly away from your sides.
I imagine there is air flowing between my body and underarms and my arms. Look straight ahead and gently focus on a place on the wall, or whatever is in front of you. Let your eyes have a relaxed focus. You can also close your eyes for a deeper experience but do that ONLY after you know you have your balance. Breath naturally, gently, easily, effortlessly in and out of your nose.
AND THAT’S IT.
Do it for as long as you can.
You may feel some aches here and there, you may get restless, or your brain my protest, but stick with it.
Breathe into it. Adjust your limbs slightly to increase your comfort.
You can also sway slightly side to side or make tiny circles with your body to relieve any body tension.
Start with 5 minutes and work up from there.
You will be very surprised that this seemingly simple exercise can be very powerful physically, mentally and emotionally.
Try these many ways to meditate or to do moving meditation as part of your daily life.
I will be writing more on moving meditation so, please return!
Make your life your meditation.
As always, thanks for reading!
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Ya gotta laugh at it all! Truth is much funnier and stranger than fiction.
I recently rededicated myself to being vegan after a couple of detours.
I learned my lesson.
I feel better and my digestion is better.
I’ve been vegan on and off for many years.
For me, it’s not a fad or a new diet. It's my lifestyle.
This is what works for me.
If it works for anyone else, that’s great. If it doesn’t, that’s great, too. I’m not Draconian about it.
I keep vegan as much as I can. When I can't, then I choose vegetarian. BUT if I go to someone’s home and they work hard to prepare me a meal and it has meat in it, I will eat it.
Most people know that I’m vegan or ask. That is very thoughtful. However, I won’t turn down food kindly prepared for me.
A friend remarked how that was very Buddhist of me. I guess you could say that. I just think it is the compassionate thing to do.
Very recently I was in the Houston airport.
That airport is like a VERY BIG mall. I hadn't been in it in years and I didn't recognize it.
There are restaurants for just about everyone there.
I found a healthy restaurant with bowls, smoothies, juices and soups.
I asked if the “Buddha Bowl” on the menu was vegan? She said she didn’t know and she would check.
After consulting a chart, she confirmed it was vegan.
While she was ringing up my order she asked ”do you want meat with that?”
I couldn't help but chuckle and think that, honestly, you can’t make this stuff up.
Maybe it was an automatic question, like "do you want fries with that" or "do you want to make that a combo?
OR there are people who say they are “vegan or vegetarian” and actually eat fish or chicken. (I'm not sure I get that but to each his or her own.)
I had to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe the tofu on the menu was classified as a meat along with beef, chicken and shrimp.
Nevertheless, it still felt like someone was going to pop around the corner and say: “Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night!
Thanks as always for reading.
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Have a wonderful week!
Peace and quiet in the middle of a field.
I have made a commitment to quiet.
A year not of silence, but of quiet.
Let’s call it "The Year Of Living Quietly".
I’m only speaking when necessary.
The interesting thing is that I seem to have said more in the last 20 days since I made this commitment than in many years.
People are responding to me in amazing ways when they learn I have made a commitment to quiet.
“I have to admit I’m a bit envious.”
“Good for you. I would love to be able to do that.”
“I do my best to be silent around my home during the day for introspection.”
I’m taking it day by day, of course.
Because of what I do as a teacher it is pretty impossible to be completely silent. BUT I am tinkering with it in class.
What I have observed so far is that the students DO get quieter when I fill them in on my commitment. Quieter, more present, more focused.
I have quiet days (minimal talking) and then I will have silent days when I can (no talking at all).
How did this come about?
I have been thinking about it for some time.
I was (am) the proverbial Chatty Cathy. I was talkative in grade school - and that was duly noted in report card after report card.
Then I went into the entertainment field - the business of talking.
When I began to study then teach meditation I realized how lovely it was to have those moments of silence.
That being said, the lion’s share of my classes are guided so…more talking.
Each class has a section of silent meditation.
Many, many students tell me how they struggle in the silence.
They often remark that the class goes more quickly, and they are much more focused and present, when they can listen to a voice or music.
That is because thoughts are distracting in the silence. When a thought crosses our minds instead of letting it come and go we start actively thinking and then our minds are off to the races.
Acknowledge that you have a thought instead of worrying that meditation's purpose is to achieve an empty mind and have no thoughts.
We have to accept that we are thinking beings and understand that the thought will be there when we are done with our meditation.
Or not, so don't worry about that either.
Years ago I read a book and taught a class on that particular book. The book is called The Ragged Edge of Silence. The author, John Francis, walked North America for 22 years after witnessing two tankers collide and creating an oil spill in San Francisco. He walked in protest and refused to use motorized vehicles from the day he witnessed the spill onward. (He has a talk on TED Talks and I highly recommend watching it.)
He, like me, was an avid talker.
However, with his newfound activism, he was getting into a lot of arguments and confrontations.
To mitigate those arguments he thought "what if I am silent for one day? What will happen?"
That one day turned into 17 years. In that time he got his Bachelor's degree, Master's degree and Ph.D. He didn't say a word.
He didn't want to contribute to the problem of too much talking and not enough doing, listening and hearing.
After a lot of reflection, here are some of the reasons I am embarking on this for the year :
-to listen better
-to learn more
-to read more
-to write more
-to train my mind to think less (Yes, think less! Once you get over the impetus of "I CAN'T TALK!!" you relax and actually think LESS.)
-to think about and measure my words, responses, input, dialogue, and expression.
-to learn a new musical instrument.
Our country is in a crisis of words. There is not enough dialogue but there is plenty of arguing, yelling, insulting, profanity, and violence.
Is this a new thing? No, but I refuse to contribute to it.
Maybe this is also MY protest.
In a very small way, and especially since I teach in communities where violence, discrimination and injustice is part of daily life, I want to make a difference.
Some may say I am crazy or looking for attention (the crazy part may be true but I don't need ANY attention).
Others may be supportive or just scratch their heads and go about their merry way. I’m ok with ALL of that!
Already on day 20, I feel freer. I hear more. I am calmer. I relax more. I see more. I am more aware.
I thought I was pretty aware already!
If I HAVE to say something it is concise and to the point. No wasted words, and long explanations.
In those situations where I do talk more I find myself yearning NOT to talk. Chitter chatter doesn't fit in at this point.
Talking is attached to thinking...and wouldn't it be lovely not to think so much?
That is certainly a challenge for deep, analytical and introspective thinkers.
Psychologically, excessive talking can be a sign of anxiety or insecurity.
I recently saw the film The Shape of Water. The main character is mute.
If the film did anything for me it showed me that words can be cheap...and actions are important.
Conversation IS important and so is communication.
There are so many ways to communicate.
The worldwide challenge is for people to talk TO each other not AT each other.
Get quiet, really listen.
Make your spoken words gems, not stones.
You may find you smile more, think less, relax more and observe A LOT more.
You'll find some challenges with quiet or not talking at all. Family, friends, and the cashier at the grocery store may not get it or may push back.
That's ok. Take it one moment at a time.
You'll learn all sorts of ways to communicate.
Smile, nod, give a thumbs up or thumbs down, wave, it all works very well.
You may be surprised at the responses you get and the effort others make to work with you and to pay closer attention, too.
I look forward to posting more on quiet, moving meditation, and this thing called life.
Maybe you, too, will find that quiet in your world.
Thanks for reading!
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train your staff or students in my unique moving meditation technique here's where you can find me:
Sensitive is NOT a bad thing. We feel intensely with all of our senses.
What the heck IS HSP? HSP means highly sensitive person.
About 20% of the world is HSP. We get a pretty bum rap because we are constantly asked “what is wrong with you? Why are you so sensitive? Why do you care so much?”
Here is the reason why:
It’s in our DNA, and we can do something about it by TRULY getting to know ourselves.
If you relate to any of these qualities you may be HSP.
You may dislike loud noises, or sudden noises, bright lights, extremes in temperature, gossip, confrontation, conflict, negotiation, disrespect, negativity, small talk, competition, large crowds, noises like water dripping, revving motorcycle engines, or jackhammers.
You may have a low tolerance for caffeine, alcohol or drugs.
You may be easily overwhelmed.
You also may feel others’ emotions.
You may need a good amount of time on your own.
You also may cringe at being micromanaged or having someone over your shoulder constantly.
Why do we recoil so much at gossip? It’s a waste of time and energy, and does no-one any good.
Here are the VERY positive sides of being HSP:
HSPs are very creative, and enjoy the art.
They have a great ability to work on their own unsupervised and are very conscientious.
Highly Sensitive Persons have great attention to minute detail AND the big picture.
They are fast thinkers, and are able able to analyze and discern a situation very quickly.
HSPs have great focus, intuition, compassion, and are great listeners.
They are self motivated.
HSPs have an affinity for nature and animals.
They can have weird dreams, not bad necessarily, just, well, weird.
Highly Sensitive Persons languish over smells, sights and beautiful sounds like birds, ocean waves, peaceful music, and flowers.
If you are HSP, and even if you aren’t, here are some things you can do to brighten your life:
Take charge of your own happiness.
Avoid people and situations that drain your energy.
Get enough sleep.
Don’t try to fit it.
Look for like-minded people.
Share your feelings and thoughts with those who understand you or want to understand you.
Embrace your feelings.
What Highly Sensitive Persons need to remember:
We can’t please everyone.
It’s ok to say no. No is a complete sentence!
You are not weird, you are sensitive. All 5 (maybe 6) senses are heightened, AND that’s a good thing!
It’s ok to have doubts.
Take care of yourself first, so you can take care of others, too.
Only you can know what you really want and need.
You aren’t broken, you just have your senses on overdrive, and that’s ok.
From one HSP to another - instead of just learning to live with that, learn to BE with that.
Thanks so much for reading!
If you would like to contact me about writing for your publication, to teach in your community or to train staff in your facility contact me here:
Happy has many definitions.
This is my response to the article "The Curse of Always Being Happy” by Qigong and Kung Fu master John Munro.
This is a subject that I have personally been thinking about a lot lately.
For me, there is no light without dark. No up without down. No Yin without Yang, hot/cold, day/night, right/left, male/female (In general. Exceptions acknowledged and honored).
It is when we are stuck in our emotions that it becomes a great challenge.
When the pendulum swings wildly one way, it will swing wildly in another.
We talk incessantly about being happy, and looking for happiness.
What about the ease of being content? A very mild, pleasant sensation. Much like the theory of neutral talked about in the article.
Have you ever noticed how feeling ecstatic can make your heart race and make your actions very amplified?
Have you also noticed how anxiety, too, can make your heart race, make you frenetic, or active in an entirely different way?
These are both still very heightened states of emotional or physical response.
Being more “neutral” helps us remain more unattached in differing situations.
I look at it as going with the flow.
As teachers it is crucial that we go with the flow. No two classes are the same, no students are the same, no responses to the material are the same.
Remaining flexible in these environments makes for better classes and better teachers. If we are constantly in states of heightened emotions it is not good for us or our students.
“Put on a happy face” or “Don’t worry, be happy” may not always be the best course of action.
We have all known someone who just puts on a happy face all the time. They are exhausted putting up a happy front BUT they are not truly happy inside. Do they feel they need to maintain the facade because that is what they feel is expected of them? (That is classic people pleasing behavior.)
Everyone has a less than perfect day. All the teachers we look up to: Gandhi, Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Jr. etc. expressed and express themselves sometimes with passion and sometimes with dismay. However, there is still a calm running parallel to that expression. There may be anger, frustration, pain, elation, jubilation and ecstasy but the way it is expressed is gently, lovingly, firmly with reserve and self-control.
Additionally, as teachers in the healing arts, we can put so much pressure on ourselves to be a perfect example. OR our students and critics put a lot of pressure on us to be perfect. Granted, that is more about them than it is about the teacher, but the pressure is there nonetheless. It takes a strong, confident, self-aware teacher to remain unaffected by this external pressure. Why put immeasurable pressure on ourselves to be other’s idea of perfection and adopt that as our idea of perfection?
To walk, talk, live and breath as what we feel or have been pressured to feel is as the perfect master, guru (or whatever you choose to label or not label) is completely unnecessary and counterproductive. It’s a tough role to play in today’s world.
When we develop our emotions to be expressed in a more serene, calm and composed manner, our existence will follow suit.
If we can have the self-discipline to enjoy the middle ground, instead of the tumultuous highs and lows, imagine how much more peaceful our lives can be.
The old story of the monk facing every situation by saying “We shall see” may be one of the best examples for a content life.
If you would like to read Master John's article here it is:
*Next week let's chat about the value of silence and quiet.*
As always, thanks so much for reading.
If you would like to contact me regarding my original moving meditation technique, teaching in your community, my writing or my upcoming book here is everything you need:
What do YOU see? That's YOUR reality.
Every day is a series of beginnings. Waking up is a beginning: the beginning of a new day.
There are two days that I feel have been the most profound and eye-opening days since I began teaching in juvenile justice.
The first day is when I walked through the gates of the facility to begin teaching, and the second is a recent evening when I was leaving the facility through those same gates.
I like to face new experiences head-on. Of course, there is some nervousness, trepidation, and anticipation. That is completely normal.
Take a deep breath and make the first step. “Go with the flow”, be as non-attached to the outcome as possible. Understand that the lesson plan is a guideline.
Some days you are going to have to throw it all out of the window and make a new plan on the spot. You sift through your cerebral database of exercises. You also may need to draw on past experiences of student's behavior, reactions, responses and occasional stonewalling.
Think fast on your feet, don’t give yourself a hard time, don’t judge yourself, take a deep breath and grin when it all goes down the toilet.
Teens are some of the most responsive, open, accessible, forgiving and accepting groups to teach. THEN some days they aren’t. Add incarceration, to the mix and you realize: flexible, firm and friendly" becomes your mantra. BUT not too friendly especially in the beginning. They can smell vulnerable or too softhearted and that is the crack in the veneer they use to manipulate the situation. When that happens you have lost control before you started and you have to go backward to go forward.
The first time anyone is buzzed through the monolithic gate, attached to a 20 foot fence, topped with barbed wire, I imagine the gravity of it is pretty inescapable. It certainly was for me.
I am a free person. I have never been incarcerated. None of my family members (that I know of) have ever been incarcerated. I have worked with formerly incarcerated adults outside of the criminal justice system and this is altogether different.
Walking down the sidewalk to the lobby, surrounded on every side by fences with no way of exiting except by the way you entered is, well, sobering.
You enter the lobby, sign in and wait for your escort. You are taken through a series of hallways. Some contain as many as 4 doors in or out. You are constantly monitored by video cameras. Practically your every move is observed.
The staff carries large round key rings that jangle and clink every time a key is placed in an enormous round lock. You cannot enter or exit any of these hallways without a staff member with a set of keys reminiscent of those for an English castle. OR you are buzzed in and out via the video surveillance.
Naturally, my classroom is monitored. I always feel very good about that. Things happen and a swift response is imperative.
By “things happen”, I mean, not only could a resident have a "moment", but many of them have health issues.
The beautiful thing is that I have not experienced one moment of fear or distrust while in the facility - with my students or while in the hallways.
This facility is run like clockwork.
That being said, I am not so naive to I think that things don’t happen. They do.
These are young teenaged men. Many of them have been incarcerated before.
Through it all, this is one of the most well-behaved facilities, with minimal incidences, in not only the county but in the state. A true testament to the private organization that operates the facility.
Only one time did I feel a twinge of claustrophobia.
I was escorted into a hallway to wait for the facility director. I was alone in the hallway outside of the classroom where he was speaking. I could not get in or out of any room. I was incarcerated for those few moments. I briefly felt the gravity of the situation.
These days it is typically routine. I feel zero trepidation being in the locked down hallways or classrooms. I trust the staff and I trust my students. They have earned my trust and they have let me know that I have earned their trust, too. (More on that is a subsequent post.)
So, what was the second eye-opening day?
Fast forward six months.
I had finished teaching a class and was being buzzed from hallway to corridor to hallway, back into the lobby.
I said goodnight to the staff and breezed out feeling positive about the success of the classes that night. There was a sense of normalcy to it all. Students and teacher.
Just as I exited the final door two sheriffs entered the building. I held the door for them. No smiles, no thank you's, let's just say serious game faces. They were not there for a social call. They were on a mission and it involved one of the residents. I was hoping it wasn’t one of my students. (It wasn’t.)
Reality paid me a visit. I was still teaching in a high-security juvenile justice facility.
I walked out, into the crisp night air, a free woman. I reminded myself to be grateful for the decisions I had made in my life and to be grateful for the decisions my son has made in his life.
Freedom must never be taken for granted.
For that brief time, the teacher was the student.
Thanks very much for reading.
If you would like to contact me with input, questions, ideas or to introduce Moving Meditation to your facility please contact me: