Tag Archives: breathing

Intent of the Day: Meditate and Breathe

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We know you’re all out there changing the world, but if we’re going to do this thing, it’s going to start by getting ourselves centered. We want to begin this day with a time of meditation and focus because when we start the day with intention, we are much more likely to accomplish our greatest desires. So what does starting with meditation look like? Does it mean candles and chanting? Do you need to have a fog machine? Meditation doesn’t have to be an other-worldly experience. It can be a quiet 10 minutes in your favorite chair first thing in the morning. Our intent is to start our day with meditation and breathing.

You too? We’ve got 3 things to help: Continue reading

Weird Breathing Tip To Help You Feel Better

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We took a break from hard work this morning and in our internet wanderings found this quick and weird breathing exercise on HuffPo! Belly ache? Brain need a rest? If so, you can try this tip from literally anywhere (except underwater. Don’t try this underwater.) Continue reading

3 Steps to Reload When You’re Filled to Capacity

capacityOur lives are filled to capacity. Technology has encouraged us to stay connected in every moment. We rarely allow ourselves time to think, to be, to experience, to dream. We can’t make any space to allow for new things in life because we have filled every moment with something.

A solution is to learn to intentionally NOT fill the daily schedule. Having time and making space creates the opportunity for spontaneity, wonder, new perspectives and an expanded view of life. Our best ideas come from the space we allow ourselves, not from the hurried, harried, filled-to-capacity day.

Everyone in my house will raise their eyebrows when they read this because I am the master of filling each moment. My life moves from checklist to to-do lists. I think it is this way partly because I run my own business (hear the rationalization?) and partly because I like being busy (more rationalization). But I am aware and do now make the commitment to be more intentional about how I use each moment.

It is truly our choice how we fill the moments of our lives. What if we were to intentionally build time into our currently filled-to-capacity day to step away from the busy-ness? What if we were more intentional about putting time into our day to breath, dream, invent, connect, consider, imagine and relate? To consistently do this, I know I will have to make some changes – here is what I commit to doing (perhaps they will inspire you to do the same or something similar):

  1. Rethink how I start the day. I commit to starting each day with what the great writer/speaker Robin Sharma calls the “holy hour” – 20 minutes of reading, 20 minutes of meditation/stillness, 20 minutes of exercise. Get up an hour earlier (this of course adds a few more moments to the day) and use that hour wisely to set the tone, direction and pace of the day. This time reminds me to create moments to connect with my world – to be inspired by reading, to get clarity through mediation and to feel healthy though exercise. I commit to starting my day with a “holy hour.”
  2. Add “exist time” to my to-do list. I’ll admit I am just working around my incessant need to have a to-do list, but since that is the way I manage my days, I’ll add an urgent-and-important topic of “exist time” to my to-do list. “Exist time” is time allocated to wander through the yard and see what is blooming (in FL there is always something blooming), time to chat with a neighbor, time for hobbies (for me it is more time cooking), or time for just being with the people who matter in my life. I know I’ll need to set the alarm; not to remind me to get back to work, but to remind me the “exist time” isn’t over yet – to stay in the moment – to enjoy it. I commit to creating “exist time” each day.
  3. Take mini NOW (mini memory vacation) breaks. Because much of my work, when not out with clients, is at my desk, I have great mementos of life all around my workspace – the hand carved Buddha statue that was a gift from my partner, the pictures of the kids and my new sons-in-laws, the mascot bobble head of the college I teach at, the watercolor paintings by my mother, the artwork and things we collected on our travels – all things that encourage (and even beg) me to take mini NOW breaks – mini memory vacations. These help me step out of the rush to be part of a thought, feeling or emotion. This encourages me to dream, reminisce and change the pace of the day. I commit to taking mini NOW moments.

Make space – this is the antidote to a life filled to capacity. Living out loud and living full out doesn’t mean running through life at breakneck speed. Instead, living boldly includes time to get focused, have some chill time and be part of mini mental breaks or NOW moments. Each is like a deep exhaled breath – the opportunity to allow new things in, connect to what is important and feel part of your amazing life.

The Power of Breath in Meditation and Fitness

BreatheInBreatheOutPayAttentionI was nine years old when my father, Deepak Chopra, taught me to meditate. Meditation has become an invaluable tool in my life to help  me stay calm, centered, and focused since then.

A vital part of meditation is breath. It is also an important aspect of yoga in wisdom traditions.  We know through sciences that breath is a critical component of the cardiovascular system, supports our digestive and lymphatic systems and is a reflection of our nervous system.

I use breath constantly as a tool to calm down when I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed. And my daughters have also been taught to meditate to help them deal with stress at school. Your breathing is an expression of the activity of the mind. When we are settled, our breath slows down. When we are excited or anxious our breath gets faster.

There are a few simple breathing techniques you can try to help you stay calm and focused in a nerve-wracking moment. I go through a few of them in these guided meditations from The Chopra Well.

With conscious, intentional breath, we can slow down our automatic responses to situations and be more present in what we may be doing. I use these meditations to help me get through the day, but there are many times when your breathing can help you be more effective in your activities – specifically when working out.

Ann Bruck, a trainer with Sports Club/LA explains that there are two different types of breathing when you are doing physical activity. There’s stimulating breath which aims to increase energy and alertness. You breathe in and out rapidly through your nose with your mouth closed for 15 seconds at a time. The other type is relaxed breath, where you inhale for a count of 1 and exhale for a count of 1. Then inhale for a count of 2 and exhale the same, until you reach a cycle of five. This will help calm your nervous system and bring your body back to balance.

What kind of breathing techniques do you use when you are working out? Do you have any meditations or  exercises you use during the day to help you stay focused? I’d love if you shared in the comments below!

photo by: tokyosucks

Recharge Yourself Daily for Optimal Use

iStock_000002911722XSmallBy Jan Bruce

I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge—ever. No matter what phase of my life or career. I hold ambition, drive, and resilience high on my list of values, without question. But I’ve also experienced first hand what it is to drive too hard, demand too much from myself and others. There is a sweet spot between ambition and anxiety, the point at which you operate optimally. You know what that feels like: the adrenalizing challenge of being spurred on, but not so much so that you’re weighed down by exhaustion.

This is an ongoing challenge for me, and for you, I presume: Knowing when and how to push harder—and to back off. The key isn’t to just get bigger, tougher, stronger, nor is to eradicate stress (good luck with that!). It’s to recalibrate and recharge, which are often overlooked or postponed, until it’s too late. In fact that is why I’m so passionate about the work I do at meQuilibrium—because I believe there is a formula for managing your response to the world out there and the thoughts in here.

Given how connected and driven people are (or feel they need to be) these days, making time to rest can feel like slamming on the breaks when you’re going 70 miles an hour. Moreover, as we “work” longer and longer hours, the idea of taking time off to rest and recharge can become increasingly daunting, especially if this time off serves as a total contrast to our normal routines.

I love vacation, and I make sure to take them—but I, too, know the dread of walking away from your email, your desk, knowing it’s all going to pile up in your absence. If you’ve ever needed a vacation from your vacation, then you know what I mean.

It’s tempting to think that a day spent lounging in sweatpants, eating whatever you want and watching back-to-back episodes of your favorite TV series is the perfect antidote to six days of non-stop business. But instead of following the “feast or famine” framework of rest and effort, I challenge you to think about one little thing you can do every day to ground and renew yourself.

Case in point: My brother regularly pulls 12- to 15-hour days at his work, and I can’t remember the last time he took more than two consecutive days off, let alone the last time he had a vacation. I was always baffled by this. How did he keep it going without an escape?

I finally understood his secret when I visited him one weekday and observed his daily routine: He’s fortunate to live in a beautiful rural area and makes a point of spending a few hours outside each morning, swimming, running or just enjoying the solitude. In those few hours, he gets the benefits that most of us associate with a vacation: time unplugged, outdoors, away from the demands of the day.

Here’s the kicker, though: He does this every day, and that’s why the rest of his busy, high-pressure life is sustainable. For him, normal life and vacation cease to function as the two binary options for how he spends his time. Because he has found a way to get the benefits of a little vacation every day, he’s not caught between the competing pressures of rest and effort.

Stop thinking about rest as the opposite of effort and start thinking about it as the foundation of effort. What can you do every day to build in a little more relaxation or pleasure, to draw you out of the moments that wind you up and leave you so tight you feel like you might snap? It could be as simple as indulging in a really good latte every morning or a walk with your dog. Find something energizing to come back to every day or every week to help you to recharge without forcing you to disengage. You’ll be well on your way to finding a more sustainable balance.

Like this article? Follow these similar intents on Intent.com

Intent- private and recharge

Intent - rejuvenate

Intent - rest

Jan Bruce is the CEO and founder of meQuilibrium.com 

Teaching Children Meditation & Mindfulness

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 3.35.56 PMIn today’s high-tech, fast-paced world, it’s pretty easy to become over-stimulated. Busy schedules directing us to go, go, go and electronic devices constantly in our hands, sucking us into scattered digital directions make inner-peace a fleeting want. Enter tension and fatigue. This is true for us, as adults, so imagine children as they absorb the energy of their parents and of the environment which they live in. Then, we send them off to school where they are expected to concentrate and focus.

As an adult, to be able to accomplish all of the above is a pretty remarkable feat. Imagine learning these tools as a young child and then being able to use them your entire life! What if an entire generation of children were blessed with this gift? While mindfulness is catching on and currently being taught in a handful of schools across the country, it is largely up to the parents to teach this powerful tool. And studies have linked mindfulness to better concentration, increased focus, and boosts of memory – so it’s well worth it.

The tips I’m about to share are my own experience as a parent and what has worked in our family. They are geared towards younger children, but much of it can apply to older kids as well. (If you are an adult looking to learn more about meditation, you may want to check out this article.)

Introducing Meditation and Mindfulness to Young Children

  1. Lead by example. As a parent, it is most important to first develop your own meditation practice and then show your children the way. They will naturally become curious as they so often want to emulate the behaviors they see in their parents and others whom they look up to. My five year old daughter has grown up her whole life witnessing meditation, and I even have many fond memories of her as a toddler coming out of bed in the morning and plopping herself down on my lap while I was in the midst of meditating! Once there is a genuine and natural interest, you can begin to help guide them into a better understanding and foster the growth of their own practice.

  2. Make it relatable, on a child’s level. There is a wonderful book about meditation called Peaceful Piggy that I’ve read with my daughter many times and would highly recommend. The story-telling approach is a wonderful way to connect with young kids. Above that, they suggest a really simple do-it-at-home experiment to demonstrate what meditation is all about. It says to take a jar and fill the bottom with a bit of sand. Then, cover with water. Shake the jar so that all the grains of sand begin swirling all around. Tell your child that each of those grains of sands represents a thought. It could be a happy thought, a sad thought, an angry thought. But, the grains swirling around represent all of the thoughts buzzing around our heads throughout the day. Next put the jar down and allow the sand to settle. See how the sand “thoughts” become calmer and the water becomes clearer? The thoughts are still there, but they are no longer all “crazy.” Peace and stillness have taken over. Explain to your child that this symbolizes the effect of meditation on the brain.

  3. Encourage discussion of their own feelings and emotions. Ask them for examples of different experiences: when something made them really happy, or really sad, a time they felt upset or their feelings were hurt, a time they felt scared. Give a few of your own examples to show them that we all feel this same array of emotions on a regular basis. Even young children, who seem to have such simple lives, still have a lot to sort through and deal with. They may share some emotions such as: happy on a fun family adventure, upset when mommy or daddy wouldn’t let them do what they wanted, sad when a family member or pet became ill, or feeling hurt when a friend in school said something mean. For children who are a bit older, the standardized testing system seems to be a source of worry. Meditation can help settle the overwhelming feelings and bring them to a calmer place in their thoughts. Being able to get outside of the whirlwind to just observe instead of being engulfed is truly a powerful gift.

  4. MinfulnessRealistic Expectations. It’s important to cover that there is no way to do this right or “wrong.” Like exercising, results become more apparent with repetition. Frequency is key to really seeing benefits over time. That being said, this should be an enjoyable experience for them and not feel like a chore or something they are being forced to do. Encourage their interest, efforts, and willingness. If you are into reward systems, this could be a good time to implement some small ones. “Let’s practice a few minutes of meditation and then we can play a little game” or “have a little treat.” This type of system is very encouraging for young children. Make it special! Designate a specific area for them in the house that will be their meditation spot. Make it welcoming with their own pillow or special pillowcase. Encourage them to bring a few trinkets that have special meaning to them: perhaps a family photo, their favorite artwork, a remnant of the earth such as gemstone or even a plant.

  5. Use a Timer. It’s great to have a goal time, but start small. Depending on the age, 3-5 minutes can be a reasonable beginner goal. A timer is nice because it is finite and they know to expect an end time. There are many great meditation apps that you can download for your smartphone. I like ones that use singing bowl sounds for start and finish. Let your child start the timer and put it somewhere they can see it. Encourage them to not worry about the time. Instead, just relax and know their meditation is over once they hear the singing bowl ring again.

  6. Guide them. Sitting down in lotus posture with eyes closed is not a must (although that is perfectly fine). Like I said, there is no right or wrong way. The point is to get them into a practice of settling their minds and become more mindful. Keeping the eyes closed allows for deeper relaxation, so would be suggested. Naturally, they will want to peek – this is okay! Lying down while meditating presents an opportunity to become a little too relaxed and possibly even fall asleep, so some sort of sitting position is best. Small children will be fidgety. Just encourage them to try their best to sit still with eyes closed until the timer goes off. Most important is to focus on the breath. Breathing is something we always take with us, so this can literally be practiced anywhere. Have them simply notice their breathing as their chest rises and falls. Then, start to encourage long, deep, slow breaths where their belly rises up on the inhale and contracts to small again as the exhale it all out.

(A fun visual: “Blowing out the Candle.” Have them clasp their hands together and raise their two index fingers, holding them in front of their mouth. Inhale slowly and deeply. On the slow exhale, have them imagine blowing out a birthday candle. Blowing out a candle is something all children can relate to, and it’s pretty fun too! When my daughter is having a tough time with something, I can simply tell her “breathe, blow out your candle” and she knows exactly what to do to calm down.)

  1. Let it be. Sitting still may not comes naturally at first. It is okay for minds to wander. It is okay to fidgety. As a matter of fact, expect it. Just encourage them to try their best to relax and refocus them back to focusing on their breath as often as needed. Know that over time and with regular practice, they will be able to sit still longer and they will begin to experience many of the other wonderful benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Don’t push it, but gently encourage them to practice regularly.

Our children are the future, and we have infinite love for them. What a beautiful gift to give them and to the world by teaching them to meditate. Namaste.

Do you meditate with your children? Do you have any of your own tips to add? Feel free to share with us in the comments below!

For more by Dawn Gluskin be sure to get on the free email list for exclusive content direct to your inbox and join the inspiring Dawnsense Facebook community.

photo by: AlicePopkorn

Be Happy: 6 Tools to Get You Smiling in No Time

Photography is in my heart What is happiness? The dictionary gives us a definition with synonyms, almost too many of them but in a nutshell all the words represent a good feeling, and feeling good is the natural quest in life. But how to arrive there or better still how to be in that state of feeling good, more or less continuously?

We associate happiness with “when …  then.” When I have what I want then I will be happy. What I want may be drawn from the well of careers, finances, relationships or more specifically that particular job, or income or mate … and yet those who have attained what they desire find that the resulting happiness is very short lived or eludes them completely. And then the cycle begins again. Furthermore, to quote Srikumar Rao, whatever it is that we can get we can also “un-get” making the source of our happiness very precarious.

Practices Leading to Happiness

There are many roads to happiness and some more personal than others. Nevertheless they are there for each and everyone of us.

First Tip is to invest or focus on the process, as explained by Srikumar Rao. Another way of saying this is to focus on the journey and not on the destination. Make it a practice to start each day with an inspiring message. I often find myself waking up feeling rather flat, perhaps because here in Vancouver we are in a season of much rain and little sunshine but by the time that I am finished watching Enjoy the Ride my spirits have notched up several degrees. Make use of aids such as this video or music or whatever it is that makes your heart sing.

Second Tip is to learn the practice of deep breathing. Fill your lungs with oxygen by slowly counting to four as you breathe in and then in a controlled manner breathe out counting at least to five or six. Initially this may be a challenge but the more that you practice it the easier it will become. Oxygen is an amazing drug and your lungs, the organ that processes the oxygen, has receptors connected to the brain that trigger different “emotions”. For example, the top third of the lung is designed to trigger flight or fright; so if you breathe in a very shallow manner then the oxygen only fills the top part of your lung. This means that the receptors will send messages to the brain telling you to get ready for a fight or to run for your life. So breathe deeply and enjoy the calming effect. It is pretty difficult to be happy if you are in flight mode, if you are not calm.

Third Tip is to move. Movement makes energy flow. We are energy and when we are not happy then the flow of energy is not vibrating at a very high level. Go for a walk, even if it means getting off the bus a couple of stops before your destination or parking the car at the furthest corner of the parking lot. Walk with enthusiasm, throwing back your shoulders and swinging your arms. Go to a yoga class. Go to an exercise class or go for a swim and smile while you are moving your body.

Fourth Tip is to smile. Put a smile on your face, making eye contact with the person that passes you and flashing them a smile. You will be amazed by the response. And it will also have magical effects on you. It will fill your heart and make you glow. A smilereleases endorphins and therefore, like oxygen, is a powerful drug. Smiles also dispel energy vampires, a phrase coined by Jon Gordon in his blog and it is so very true. It is not possible to be happy with a frown on the face.

Fifth Tip is music. Music is a universal language. Some very interesting studies have been done with the effect that music has on the human brain. Play the kind of music that makes you want to move and then do it. Move with wild abandon. Remember that with movement there is a rise in energy.

Last Tip is to meditate. Meditating conjures up all kinds of images of contorted positions and demanding thoughts to vanish which in itself is thinking. But if you sit quietly, especially when you have that feeling of unhappiness; close your eyes and simply focus on your breath. Count as the air goes into your lungs and also as it comes out. Do this for ten minutes, no more. At first you can set a timer and you will be amazed how quickly you relax. Relaxing is one of the easiest steps that lead to a state of happiness.

 

Originally published January 2011

8 Ways To Feel Better In 30 Seconds Or Less

CL Society 194: Laughing girlPeople tell me, “I don’t have the time to …

“… go to the store and pick up fruits and vegetables.
“… exercise.” 
“… sit and breathe.”
“… to be positive.”

Really?  Too busy to be positive?

Surely, you can clear a scant 30 seconds to do something positive for yourself, can’t you? If thinking about what to do takes up too much of those 30 seconds, here follow 8 suggestions!

8 Positive things that you can ‘accomplish’ in a mere 30 seconds. 

  1. Breathe. 70% of waste is eliminated via your lungs! You can place your hand on your belly and feel it rise and fall with each breath cycle. Thirty seconds of breathing can do wonders!
  2. Affirmations. Repeat one powerful affirmation over and over again for 30 seconds. If it’s a short affirmation, “I am whole and complete,” you may be surprised to find how many times you can repeat “I am whole and complete” in just 30 seconds.
  3. Stretch. Stand and reach for the stars!
  4. Smile. Smiling relaxes hundreds of muscles and releases pockets of stress and tension held in your face.
  5. Stay Hydrated. Your brain is approximately 75% water, and it’s the first place in the body to lose water. Your brain needs water to think clearly. Drink a glass of water.
  6. Close Your Eyes. Give yourself a real break and allow your body a 30 second opportunity to re-balance itself. Close your eye, cup the palm of your hands over your ears and listen to the blissful sounds of the ocean playing. Just like when you were a kid and held that shell to your ear!
  7. Dance It Out. Plug your iPod into your ears and shake it up for 30 seconds. The ultimate energy boost!
  8. Do Nothing. Just sit and stare; perhaps out the window or at the ceiling. Just be sure to do nothing!

Surely, we all have a few 30-second pockets of time during the day where we can take the time to just be. Start NOW!

Spread the word … NOT the icing!

* * *

For the best in wellness and weight loss wisdom, visit Janice:
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Originally published July 2011

Breathe-See-Feel the Way to Manifesting Your Desires

Grace - 1By Colette Davenport

Lately, I’ve been experiencing the urge to be near the ocean. The ideal for me is a tropical environment with soft brown sugar-like sands, lush towering palm trees through which the ocean breeze whispers mother nature’s secrets, and water so ridiculously clear and azure in color that when I close my eyes that’s what appears on the screen of my eyelids.

Sounds great, right? Well, there are some hurdles I have to overcome before I can get to that tropical paradise. First, I need to save up the money by re-prioritizing my spending.  Instead of indulging, for instance, in things like pedicures and spontaneous shopping trips to Target (you know how this can go!) I’m going to have to put that money into a travel account. Or hey, even better, that fun little piggy-bank I got at Target last week! Next, and this isn’t so much required as it is desired, I want to look and feel fabulous in bikini on the beach. So I am setting a goal to exercise five days a week. My three-days-a-week routine is doing a lovely job of maintaining a physique, but I want to challenge and then reward myself with the holiday. Given all of that, I think eight weeks is a reasonable time-frame to save up and tone up.

Now. Here’s where the real challenge comes into play. I have to choose for the next two months in favor of my intention to float and frolic in the warm waters of the sea. My tendency is to react to the immediate desire, i.e. “Cute piggy-bank!” (flower vase, scarf, etc.) or “Happy hour instead of the gym? Sure why not!” Making conscious choices daily will determine whether I’m sitting seaside this summer or pushing a red shopping cart browsing the beach towel isle.

In an effort to make the daily choices fun and functional, I’ve created the breatheseefeel method, described below. I invite you to join me and use it whenever you’re faced with a decision to indulge in an immediately gratifying activity OR to consciously choose in favor of something you really desire and intend.

First, breathe. Inhale a deep full breath and then exhale slowly, mindfully, and allow for instant conscious awareness. It clears the mind of racing thoughts. It also relieves the near constant “fight or flight” response induced by fear or confusion. It’s kind of like pushing the reset button. I like to imagine the exhale as a down escalator…taking me from the upper floor (my head, that wants something NOW) to the lower floor (my heart, that intends something more meaningful).

Next, see. Visualize yourself successfully reaching your goal or manifesting your intention. Notice the environment. (I did this while writing the first paragraph above.) Observe what you’re doing in that environment. Is it day or night? Who are you sharing the good news or good vibes with? See them, too.

Finally, as you see your intended results come to fruition, feel the positive emotions this success elicits. You know what it feels like to get what you want or succeed at something important so let yourself feel those feelings in advance – I bet it brings a smile to your face! After all, isn’t that what we’re going for when it comes to immediate gratification?

When we breathe, see, and feel, we get present to how the choice before us is either “for or against” our real intentions. In that moment we align our head and heart, our choices and actions so that achieving our goals becomes powerful and pleasurable.

Right then, I’m off to put piggy front and center, depositing (what was going to be) “latte money” in her on my way out the door. And this time I’m choosing the flush of redness in my face from a work out over the red bull’s eye.

* * *

professional portraitColette Davenport is a health, relationship, and intimacy coach with 20+ years of training, formal education, and life experiences culminating in a truly integrated and holistic body of work. Colette’s private practice, THRIVE [mind+body+energy], is a Tantra inspired coaching and training platform shaped by her personal philosophy, which is rooted in self-awareness, compassion, service, mindfulness, personal growth, communication, gratitude, and love. Miss Davenport studied at Texas Healing Arts Institute in Austin, TX and received a holistic health coach certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. To connect with Colette visit her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

 

Image via Lululemon

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