The other day I bought my first mala. In case you are unsure what that is exactly, it’s a long string of 108 beads and you say a prayer or mantra and repeat it as you move along the string. One repetition for each bead. I have been looking for a mala for a couple of years but just hadn’t been able to find “the one.”
Well my friend Rachel at Moonstruck Rising posted on Facebook that she was selling some malas she had made and one of the photos totally captivated me! Then I went to the studio where she had her merchandise and it was confirmed. THIS was the mala I had been looking for! The next day I received some soul-care encouragement from Gin White at Subtle Harmony and she gave me a lovely practice that combines breathing practice with gratitude and uses a MALA as the tool!
How fabulous is that??? A brand new mala AND a wonderful new practice all in one weekend!
There are so many beautiful ways to deepen our practices. Sometimes those practices find US instead of us finding them.
And THAT is a beautiful thing.
Around my house, there’s a fair amount of meditation going on. Not a single one of us would claim to be an expert, but we certainly practice it everyday. I don’t know about you, but just about the time I get settled in to a nice comfy position, get my earbuds adjusted properly, and close my eyes, it begins. All of a sudden, the dog needs to go outside, my daughter needs help studying for Science, my son wants me to listen to his latest and greatest musical production, and my husband starts to tell me a great story before realizing I’m trying to meditate. Why can’t they just leave me alone for 20 minutes?
And when someone else in the house is meditating, I am just as guilty as the rest of them at interrupting. It happens.
Does this happen to anyone else?
So, to help solve this frustrating dilemma, we came up with a code-word! Whenever someone is about to meditate these days, we yell out, “I’m goin’ in!” And then everyone knows not to bother with questions or overly-loud nose blowing! ; ) It’s a pretty simple solution. And it works like magic!
Sometimes all we have to do is explain to our housemates what the scoop is, come up with a code-word or other fun way to signal when it’s time and allow the space for meditation to come upon us.
I feel better already! Don’t you?
I remember the first several times I sat down to meditate. It was painful. Excruciatingly painful. It was so bad, I distinctly remember my husband saying that I didn’t look at all peaceful, but more like I was completely stressed out. sigh. So, to say it didn’t come naturally to me would be something of an understatement.
I kept at it though. I dutifully sat down and spent around 20 minutes at a time doing my best to release the relentless stream of thoughts that barraged through my mind and to find that ever-elusive calm, peaceful center. I’ll pause here to say, it’s a good thing I have un-ending patience. Because I think it took me about 5 months (or maybe even more) to ever experience anything that even remotely resembled peace or calm.
For the longest, I refused to try a guided meditation. There were two reasons – first, I worried that someone would lead me somewhere I didn’t want to go and second, I thought it was sort of cheating to hit the play button. I wanted to be all purist about the meditation thing, and for whatever reason, that meant no guided meditations to me. But the most amazing thing happened when I finally DID hit the play button. I stopped TRYING so stinking hard. I relaxed into the soothing music and the soft voice guiding me to a place of calm in my mind I didn’t even know existed! It was AMAZING!
If you’ve been in the meditation world very long, you know that there are at least a gazillion types of meditation out there. Which is pretty cool because you can find the style that works for you. It can also be somewhat overwhelming to find that perfect fit when there are so many choices out there.
Here’s my two-cents’ worth of advice: pick one type of meditation to start with and give it a good month before moving on to any other type. This will give you enough experience with a particular meditation to know if it has the desired effects. Practice it every day. Yes – every day. The most notable benefits happen when you engage the meditation regularly. It’s like exercise. you wouldn’t go to the gym one time and then say it didn’t work for you. Who would know? Ya gotta go every day (or a few times a week, anyway) to know if there are benefits or not. Remember, it’s a PRACTICE! No one becomes a master of meditation the first time they sit down. It will take many times sitting down to realize benefits and many more than that to create that place where you can sit and meditation instantly calms and centers you.
With all that said, I made something for you guys. It’s a guided meditation! This one is a balancing meditation. I am really excited to have them available for you. I hope you enjoy it!
As you may have seen last week, I launched a brand new FLOOR-SLAMMING* series of meditations.
In an effort to make sure all three meditations were ready for distribution, I had a few friends listen to them and give me their feedback. So, I sent them off, and one-by-one, the feedback came in. Most of the feedback was really good, but one story in particular caught my attention.
It’s so good, I just have to tell you about what happened to one of my friends when he listened to the Breathing Meditation from the new pack the other day. Get ready – this is GREAT!
So, my friend heads over to his favorite new coffee shop, orders a cup of joe, finds a table, sits down, pulls out his ear buds and hits the play button on the meditation. He’s getting into it and enjoying the nice background music and finding his breath. It’s all going so well.
The next thing my friend knows is that he sees the barista and a few other people standing over him. This is odd and perplexing, to say the least. As he takes a look around, it becomes evident that he is laying on his back on the floor of the coffee shop!!! My friend went into such a deep meditation that he fell asleep (or something) and fell OUT OF HIS CHAIR* in the middle of the coffee shop!
After regaining his composure and coming back to a seated position, my friend sends me his feedback: “WOW. Your meditations are POWERFUL!”
Someone asked me the other day why I do what I do (referring to this blog and my Facebook page). What’s the point in spending all that time coming up with content to brighten people’s day? Why study about meditation and chakras and oils and stones and self-care and take the time to post it on a Facebook page for a bunch of people I haven’t ever met in person?
Are you ready for a story? This is where it began:
Back when I was around 10 years old, my dad and I were out on the property (5 acres outside Oklahoma City) and had been to the garden to pick summer’s bounty of blackberries. By the time we had finished gathering berries and started heading back to the house, it was getting dark. We followed the path toward the house and dad was telling me about the stars. We came to the natural bridge between two little creeks where I would fish for crawdads by day and, to get a better look at the stars, we decided to just lay down there on the cool grass. He showed me how to locate a few constellations and that was cool, but the part that really struck me was the space and the freedom in that moment. We could have been there for 5 minutes or two hours. I don’t know. And I don’t care. What I do care about is that it was the first time I can remember being truly present in the moment and old enough to be able to “know” that I was being present.
Ever since then, I have longed for such moments in time. Moments when nothing else matters but NOW. Moments when all the cares of the world melt away. Moments when I am tangibly aware of the divine all around me. Sometimes I can find them in seemingly mundane moments of the day like sitting at a stop light or waiting for my kids to get out of school. Other times I find that same stillness in meditation or practicing yoga. I have realized that I can also find those moments when shopping for stones for someone or creating an essential oil kit that meets someone’s needs.
But do you want to know what my biggest take-away is? It’s not any ONE of those things that allows me to pause and breathe and experience the oneness with all things. It’s all of those things and MORE. The ability to find the peace and stillness isn’t found in one magical object or technique or practice. Finding and creating space for quieting our minds leads to our inner transformation. And that truly takes all of our lives to do. It’s not only in the 20 minute meditation before we get out of bed. That meditation sets us up for mindfulness so that when we get to the grocery store and the line is ridiculously long, instead of seeing a mini-tragedy, we see God. It’s not only the 90 minute yoga practice (no matter how awesome it is), but the attention to breath we carry with us long afterwards, so that when the stress of life happens we respond with a deep cleansing breath instead of a nervous breakdown.
The Source Energy isn’t only in those special moments when we set aside time to connect.
And this is why I do what I do. To live a life of practicing awareness in each moment and share my experiences along the way. Then to post those experiences on a random Facebook page so that all of us looking for those beautiful moments have a place to share them together.
Thanks for joining me on this journey. It is an honor to share it with you. Namaste.
My entire family loves the Lord of the Rings movies. We watch them at least once a year, and most years even more than that. Well, last night was one of those nights – complete with popcorn and s’mores (with gourmet chocolate, of course)!
In The Twin Towers (movie number two), three of the characters, Aragorn (a man), Legolas (an elf) and Gimli (a dwarf) are running across the country-side in an effort to save two of their Hobbit friends (Merry and Pippin) from certain death. As you might imagine, Gimli, being a dwarf, is having some challenges keeping up with the much taller and leaner Legolas and Aragorn. As he seems to be about to give up, he says, “Keep breathing. That’s the key.”
Arguably, one of the oldest meditation and mindfulness practices around is breathing. Yup. Breathing. This seems too good to be true! We don’t have to read a manual or hire a coach or ANYTHING – this is something WE CAN DO!
Simply paying attention to our breath brings us into the present moment instantly, slows our heart rate, and takes our stress level down a notch!
Not sure if you believe me? Let’s give it a try…I’ll practice while I’m typing it, you practice while you’re reading it. Inhale. Feel the air coming in. Notice the movement in your body (tummy expanding, chest rising). Exhale. Feel the air moving out. Notice the contraction of your ribs and abdomen. Now, check in with your stress level – notice any change? I do, and I thought I was relaxed already!
Now imagine what might happen if you tried this little trick anytime you feel stress coming on, or as you drive in rush-hour traffic, or even stand in the grocery line. If you strung about 10 minutes’ worth of these purposeful-breath-things together everyday, I dare say, your life might even change for the better. It’s certainly not going to hurt anything! Give it a try and see what happens.
“Keep breathing. That’s the key.”
The other day, my daughter and I were at the grocery store picking up a few things for dinner. We were talking about school and telling stories from the day.
I had no idea she was about to dump a profound nugget in my lap.
She asked if I would buy her some chocolate. (That’s my girl!)
“Why do you want chocolate?” (A question that needs no answer, really.)
“Because nothing is really happening today, and I want chocolate so I have something to look forward to. My friend Andi says that she leaves chocolate on her nightstand everyday so that even if the day turns out bad, she still has something to look forward to.”
Here’s what I love about that (even more than the girl’s connection with the food of the gods) – Andi has created for herself a yummy nightly meditation. Something that she knows will end the day on a positive note. Every. Single. Day.
Now, I am completely down with any meditation of a chocolate variety. But it’s totally cool if something else speaks to you. It could be a guided meditation, a nature sounds app on your phone, a warm bath or a nightly cup of chamomile tea that makes the perfect ending to your day.
What I know is this: when I take the time and effort to put a mindfulness or yummy meditation practice in my morning and evening routines, my outlook is better, my disposition is better, and I think my friends and family enjoy my company a little more, too.
What is it that creates that soothing ending to your day?