Meditation Challenge

commit_to_sit

This month, I’m participating in Sharon Salzberg’s Real Happiness Meditation Challenge with a commitment to sit in meditation every day in February.  Last year over 23,000 joined following the program outlined in Real Happiness.  Each week, different meditation practices will be offered.  The commitment is small.  Each day takes less than ten minutes of time.  The first week will focus on a concentration practice.

I’m looking forward to the next few weeks and sharing my experiences. If you’ll be doing this challenge, let me know!

Registration is still open if you want to join us.  Have you ever done a meditation challenge before? If you have, I’d love to hear about it!  If you join,  I’d love to hear about that too!

Here is the link    Commit to Sit 

 

 

 

Now, the Present Moment, and Mary Oliver – Part Two

In this blog pose, we continue exploring Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day.

Here are the final four lines:

 

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

 

These lines can bring up some distressing thoughts, confronting a harsh truth that most of us wish to ignore.  Life as we know it will end – perhaps even sooner then we wish.  When it does, the poem asks us to question ourselves – have I done everything I should have done or wanted to do?  Perhaps we have been pushing to the future something we have always been intending.  Perhaps we haven’t done all that we might have wished to?

 

But, to me, the last question of the poem offers hope.  Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?  What are you going to do NOW that you could,  should, or want to do?  What will you do with your own time?  Take a few moments of your precious time to do some introspection. It is a good, deep question to ponder on a cold winter night.

 

wisconsin-horicon-national-wildlife-refuge-colorful-sunset_800

 

What is it you want out of life?  Are you getting it now?  To me, this poem is a call to action.  It tells us to  focus on our own life’s plan, to live in the now, to take action in this current time, and to make a plan for our future, by figuring out what we really want out of life.  Then, attempt to do it.

 

Start now.  Create a plan as a guiding arrow for your life’s direction, but, always, live in the present.  It is ok to change your plan, (for after all it is only a plan), but if you do, do it freely, and eagerly, and follow your new path with equal zeal and vigor. 

 

The last five words of the poem are the heart of the matter – your wild and precious life.  Your life is indeed precious, your life wondrous and maybe a bit wild!

 

Don’t let these special and precious moments escape you without noticing them anymore.  Make a plan to set a direction for your own path.

 

Use the insights to keep you focused in your yoga and meditation practices.  Savor each and every time you step on your mat.  Take these thoughts into your life off of the mat as well.  Set a direction for what you want to do, yet, live in the present moment.  Follow your arrow, but maintain awareness with each breath and with everything that you do.  Create your sense of purpose, keeping alive a sense of wonder as you live and explore the world with your one wild and precious life!

 

Remembering Mary Oliver

 

remembering mary oliver

 

 

A Summer Day

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Poem: Yoga Nature — Crow On The Wire

I do yoga in the autumn woods. 
Nature is my teacher. 
The sky is my Om. 
The soil of the ground, my mat
that I lengthen in an upward dog.

The tree is my pose
that stables my imbalance. 
The black slate is my plank
when I feel weak and unsure. 
The leaves crackle under my feet
as I reverse my warrior.

I skim the stones of mindfulness 
across the shallow creek
of glistening waters. 
I breathe in the scent of pine and maple
with Ujjayi breath. 
I stretch and unwind
under an emerald-blue waterfall
to loosen the tightness
of my grip.

via Poem: Yoga Nature — Crow On The Wire

Keeping up a practice

For a little inspiration on keeping up your practice read the story of the Three Meditating Monks.

Three_saddhus_at_Kathmandu_Durbar_Square

Three Monks are meditating silently in a cave.  A year passed.  They remained silent sitting and meditating.

A few more months pass by and there’s a noise outside the cave.

Six months of silence follows and the first Monk says: Did you hear that goat?

A year of silence follows when the second Monk says: That wasn’t a goat. It was a cow.

Two years later the third Monk says: “If there is going to be any bickering, I am leaving.  You are disturbing my silence!”

Happy Thanksgiving Meditation

A ‘Just Sitting’ Meditation

 

Happy Thanksgiving!  If you are preparing the dinner, waiting for guests, or are just generally stressed on this day, take five and re-center yourself.  It’s ok.  The kids running around, and the dog barking will wait.  The worries of the day can wait too – whatever they are.  Find a quiet space, close the door.  Dim the lights and maybe light a candle.  Create a little sanctuary for yourself.  If you have to, go into the bathroom and lock the door.  Again it’s ok.  You can get back to all the excitement in a few minutes.  If you have  limited time, set a timer.  Try five minutes, or  fifteen if you have it.

 

 

Sit in a chair or upright on the floor.  Get comfortable.

Again, be comfortable, for this the most important part of the practice.  If you are not comfortable, rearrange yourself or try sitting someway else.  For example, if sitting on the floor seems too hard, give yourself a break and sit in a chair.  This is “you time”. Enjoy it!

Sit up straight, place your hands on the tops of your thighs with palms pressing downwards.  Your eyes can be open or closed.  If you have lit a candle, you can turn your gaze to it.

Sit in this way for a little while.  Try to keep focused on what is happening with your body.  Notice how all the different parts of you feel.  What do your feet feel like?  What do your legs feel like?  What about your back?  Keep going. Explore your entire body.

As your mind wanders to other things, like the smell of coffee, or the bang from downstairs, gently come back to your practice of noticing the feelings coming from your body.  When your attention drifts, just say to yourself, “noise” and return to your body.  Don’t rush. Start with your toes and end up at the top of your head.  Use this labeling technique for the rest of our sitting meditation.  When something impinges on your quiet time, just label it, “noise” and return.

Now, bring attention to your breath.  Watch the breath as it comes into and out of your body.  Bring all your attention and focus to your breath   Just watch as the air comes in and goes out.  Notice the length of your in breath and the length of your out breath.  Just notice, don’t change it in any way.  This is your natural breath.  As you relax, your breath may become longer and fuller.  It also may not.  It doesn’t matter.  For this time, just notice.  Notice how it comes in, and goes out, and notice if it changes on its own over time.

Finally, let your attention on the breath diminish, and notice just your thoughts.  Watch them as they come into your mind and watch them as they recede.  Like the breath, don’t try to control your thoughts or think in any certain way.  Just watch them.  When one thought recedes and another one comes up, pay attention to this new thought.  Let the old one just fade. Don’t try to stay with any one thought for any time.  When it leaves, it leaves.  Let it go.  Stay with this practice for as long as you like or as long as you have today.   Give yourself the gift of “me time ” even for just a little bit in all of the energy and connections of your celebrations.  I leave you with this poem as you return to your day.

 

Best Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here, so our minds have turned

To what time has taught us, to what we’ve learned:

We often focus all our thought

On shiny things we’ve shopped and bought.

We take our pleasure in material things,

Forgetting the pleasure that friendship brings.

If a lot of our stuff just vanished today,

We’d see the foundation of each happy day

Is special relationships, constant and true,

And that’s when our thoughts go directly to you.

We wish you a Thanksgiving you’ll never forget,

Full of love and joy—your best one yet!

Poem by Joanna Fuchs

Happy Thanksgiving!