For many of us summer can be a wonderful time of the year, serving as a period of rest from our regular routines and an opportunity to recharge and take stock of the year before we launch into the business of back to school and work in the fall. For others who do better with a schedule, it can pose a challenge to find stability in the more unscheduled weeks and months. In either case, we are given a chance to look at our lives differently for a while and to change our perspective, whether through travel or simply spending more unstructured time with family and friends. There can be a freedom and lightness that comes with this more open time.
As I paddled into the ocean over spring break, my surf instructor suggested I face each wave head on to get through it more effectively, which struck me as a nice analogy for life. Sometimes we want to find a way around what is in front of us by remaining in the past, holding on to what has come before, and dwelling on what may come in the future. Mindfulness can help us with this. When we practice mindful meditation and yoga, we watch our thoughts rise and fall like waves, and we remain present without being pulled into the undercurrent, simply by focusing our attention on the breath. Through this practice, we gradually learn equanimity and presence.
Scientific research backs this up. Mindfulness practice has been linked to increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, which is important for self-awareness and compassion – and alternately, a decrease in grey matter in the amygdala plays a significant role in anxiety and stress. This means that we can re-wire our brains and learn to move through life with more grace and equanimity, wherever we are. It’s helpful to know that we have these meditative and yogic tools to help us sit with whatever comes up, stay present, then let it go. With practice, we can face the experiences that come our way with more freedom and spirit, as I did when I learned to ride the waves.
The Dalai Lama was once asked what he thought about when he arose and he said two words “Shaping Motivation”.
Join Patti for some simple asana, relaxation, and breathing practices to help you open the door to meditation. These preliminary practices prepare the body and help stabilize the mind. As we begin to “shape our motivation” each day we are able to cultivate more peace in our lives.
Open the Door to Meditation with Patricia Craves
April 22, 2017 Earth Day 1-2:30 PM
The Yoga Garden
Please join Temple for a Mother-Daughter Yoga Class to benefit The Ross School.
April 20, 2017
Thursday 4:30 – 5:30 pm
The Yoga Garden
412 Red Hill Ave #12
San Anselmo, CA 94960
If interested in a regular Mother-Daughter Yoga Class, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
As we look to the new year ahead of us, we may feel happy and contented with where we are in our lives or we may feel unsettled and unsteady – not sure how to navigate the challenges in front of us. One of the benefits of yoga is that it helps us stand more firmly on our feet, aligned in our physical body – and this can lead to a mental and emotional steadiness over time which supports us. This is reflected in one of the central niyamas or character-building observances – Ishvar Pravidhana – one translation of which is ‘learning how to line up with nature’s intelligence and grace’.
The weather has transitioned to become beautifully crisp and cold over the last few weeks but as the temperature drops, it can sometimes feel challenging to get warm. While we can always wrap up in a warm blanket, sweater and socks, we can also find ways to move our energy from the inside and build up some heat from our center. When you feel warm on the inside, your whole body can soften, relax and feel safe.
A few weeks ago we moved through the autumnal equinox, when day and night are of equal length. The equinox acts as a point of balance between the two solstices – summer and winter – and provides a moment to reflect as we find ourselves at a point of balance between day and night, light and dark, outward-moving and inward-moving energy.