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Clearing the Decks

trainThings are starting to gear back up again. Can you feel it? August is a transition month and I begin to feel summer slipping away. It makes me a little sad because it’s my favorite time of the year. I love the long days of sunshine and warmth. Summer isn’t as laid back now as when I was a kid. But even though the pace is faster today there is still a less pressured, more relaxed feel to this time of the year.

In August all that begins to change. The Back to School signs appear in the stores and the kids go back to school. Various summer focused merchandise goes on sale. A few days ago I cleaned out my office tossing out files and papers that are no longer needed. I am clearing the decks as I gear up for September and a more active, sometimes more stressful, time of year.

The quote on this week’s picture is one of my favorites and a nice reminder, especially as we move into fall. Take a little time to “smell the roses” at every time of the year.

Each of us handles life’s changes, challenges and stress differently based on our personality, which is the result of our conditioning. This month as we continue examining the elements of Total Well Being, we focus on Step Four – Personality. (For background on all the elements, please click here)

Our ancient, yoga practicing ancestors recognized that the way we respond to life’s events (our personality) comes from prior conditioning. They also knew it was important to examine this conditioning and used the tool of meditation to understand and refine the personality.

Likewise, it is good practice for us in our hectic, modern day lives to slow down the speed and meditate as a way to manage life’s stresses and to understand why we react to these stresses as we do.

Last week, I blogged that meditation improves mental focus and concentration because it reduces stress. Scientific research has proven the effectiveness of meditation. More and more frequently doctors recommend it as a way to counter balance the negative effect stress has on our bodies and minds.

But, what is meditation? What does it mean to meditate? What is supposed to happen during meditation? For many of us, it can be a very frustrating experience. Years ago my favorite aunt tried to meditate at the suggestion of her doctor and eventually gave up in frustration. Her mind kept wandering which made her feel she wasn’t doing it “right”. She didn’t realize a wandering mind is normal and happens to us all.

I’ve had numerous people tell me they would love to meditate but they don’t know how. There is no one “right” way. Meditation takes many forms with the ultimate goal being to still the mind.

We will delve into meditation more deeply during August. In the meantime, following are a few suggestion to get you started.

  1. Prepare your body and mind. Meet them where they are before starting to meditate. For example, if you are agitated, release the energy with a brisk walk or yoga movement so you can sit still during meditation. If you are exhausted do some gentle movement to get the energy moving so you don’t fall asleep.
  2. Place yourself in a seated (chair or floor) or lying position. I prefer seated because I fall asleep lying down but try both to see which works best for you.
  3. Focus your attention on the tip of your nose and observe your inhalation and exhalation. Breathe through your nose if possible.
  4. Bring your attention back to your breath when your mind wanders. You can mentally tell yourself “focus” or “release thoughts” or “thinking” to come back to your meditation.
  5. Initially your meditation will last a short time, perhaps a minute or two. Eventually with practice the time will lengthen.
  6. Make a brief written note about your experience to follow your progress over time.
  7. Don’t hold yourself to some idealized standard. There is no right or wrong. There just is.

As you clear your decks and prepare for the faster pace and increased activities of fall, take a moment or two to go inside yourself, slow your pace and meditate on your breath.

Enjoy and Breathe Easy

Joanne Thompson

Joanne Thompson

Founder/Owner at Yoga for Self

Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
Joanne Thompson

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