After the launch of my newest book, Miracles Now, I received some awesome emails from my readers. Many of them reported that they were intuitively guided to share the Miracles Now meditations with their kids! This news thrilled me. My hope and my intention is that those of us on a mindful path can organically plant spiritual seeds in our children. In this week’s vlog I share fabulous tips on how to teach meditation to kids. When you plant a spiritual seed in a child you can know that you have given them the greatest gift they could ever receive.
Have you always wanted to start meditating…but don’t know how? Or started a meditation practice and quickly fallen off the wagon? It takes a little instruction, but it’s simpler and easier than you may think.
As yogis have known for centuries and scientists more recently discovered, the benefits of meditation are profound!
Studies show, that MEDITATION can help you: lose weight, vastly improve communication and relationships, reduce anxiety and depression, overcome addiction, sharpen your thinking and master your emotions.
When you meditate, you access deeper brainwave states, helping to clear distracting thoughts, reduce stress and boost brainpower while cultivating a spiritual connection and reaching deeper states of awareness and wholeness.
Meditation trains us to use the inevitable challenges of life as opportunities to grow.
TOP 10 TIPS ON HOW TO START MEDITATING
1. Get comfortable. We tend to make meditation more complicated and challenging than necessary. Take it easy. Start by taking a comfortable seat. If you’re flexible, sit on the floor, on a meditation cushion, bolster or blanket (hips higher than your knees). If you’re not, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor.
2. Same “Bat Time”. Same “Bat Place.” One of the most lucrative ways to coax the mind into submission is to create a ritual. Set a clearly designated space for meditation. This can be as simple as a candle, picture or stone, thoughtfully placed.
Practice at the same time every day. Start with the same protocol for each meditation. Routine triggers the mind out of the left brain (logical, linear) and into the right hemisphere (intuitive, non-linear).
3. Sit tall. Posture 101: Sit tall. Straighten your spine. Sit in a chair or against the wall if you need to. Lengthen the spine to help increase circulation and keep you alert.
4. Start small. Start where you are. If 10 min. seems overwhelming, begin with 5. After a week, begin to add 1 min. to your practice each week until you build up to 30 min. (or more) at a time.
5. Be nice to yourself (really nice!). As renowned meditation teacher Sally Kempton says, “Meditation is Relationship.” Ultimately, it is all about your relationship to yourself. The way you do anything is the way you do everything. Meditation teaches us radical acceptance, compassion and unconditional love. Be sweet to your byzantine mind. Surrender to exactly who you are and what is happening – Right here. Right now. Smile.
6. Note your excuses. Meditation is a practice of self-inquiry. Observe the excuses you tell yourself. “I’m too tired.” “I don’t have time.” You can carve 5 – 10 min. out of your day. Notice how your mind rationalizes breaking your commitment. No judgment. Just observation and understanding. Then, recommit.
7. Find a meditation buddy. Accountability is the answer to your excuses. Find a buddy. We all have an overactive, unruly mind. It’s built that way! Find a friend who is also beginning to meditate, join a Facebook group or online course. Your struggle is normal…and it will get easier.
8. Practice Makes Perfect. Or at least perfectly imperfect. As the great Ashtanga guru, Patthabi Jois says…”Practice. Practice. Practice. All is coming.” Like anything, we get better with practice. Think of your meditation as bicep curls for the muscle of your mind. You are training your brain to focus, concentrate and let go. Over time, with consistency…you will become more skillful.
9. Just Breathe. The breath is a gateway beyond the mind. Our mind is addicted to analyzing the past or projecting into the future. The breath is only ever right here, right now. Focus on your breath to anchor the mind into the present moment.
10. Start a “Benefit book”. End your practice by observing the benefits of your practice. How do you feel? What is your emotional state or mood? Make note any changes so they register in your body and conscious mind. Next time you resist meditation, remember the benefits to help you motivate and stay committed.
I would’ve never been someone who meditated.
It seemed to weird. To hippy.
What is a hippy? I wouldn’t say I was even 100% sure what a hippy was but I didn’t think I wanted to be one.
I like things to be orderly and intentional.
Sitting on a mat and lighting incense was not how I pictured myself.
Then I started a job where I worked from home and I was entirely responsible for my own motivation and organization. I thrive in those situations but it was a few weeks in when I realized I was having trouble turning of work. I was getting up in the morning and I wasn’t rested. There was no such thing as work time and home time. It all bled together and it was making me crazier and crazier.
I had a coworker suggest I take a few minutes in the morning to sit and think through the day. Maybe pour myself a cup of coffee and look over my calendar. Get a little perspective. I’d go through the process of getting up, making breakfast, taking a few minutes to sit and think and then get dressed. It was my cue that the day was officially starting. It was a few weeks into this successful practice that I realized I was meditating!
Or at least practicing some sort of meditation.
I was reminding myself of who I was.
I was reminding myself of what I was doing.
I was reminding myself of what it was all for and where I was headed.
It allowed me to approach work tasks with a broader scope and more patience.
It allowed me to feel less guilty when I got to the end of my work day and could shut my computer and move on even though I wasn’t necessarily headed out the door to something else. I could just be.
Maybe meditation sounds to weird and ethereal to you.
A couple of things to help you?
1. Inc listed morning meditation as one of the “7 Ways to Start a Great Day”. If it’s good enough for Inc, it’s good enough for me.
2. Mallika Chopra has a great eBook aptly titled “Meditation with Mallika Chopra” that is a great starting point for people new to the practice.
3. Deepak Chopra has been teaching and speaking on meditation for years now. We’ve assembled some great resources answering the questions of what and why for beginners here.
Worried to be the only one? Many of the folks at Intent.com are starting the day with meditation and love encouraging one another! (You can vote on whether or not you want the incense. It doesn’t hurt, I promise!) Let them help you get started:
We know that motivating yourself to get out there and work out can be tough. So don’t do it alone! One of the greatest assets you can have is a great work out partner who pushes you to reach your own goals and doesn’t let you give up when you’re having a rough time. It can be a tough road to making a healthier lifestyle change, but when you have the right person beside you it can make all the difference. Follow these tips to create a successful work out partnership.
1. Choosing the Right Partner – The most important quality in a work out partner is that they are reliable. If you agree to go out or meet at the gym at a certain time you want to make sure they will be there. This also means that you have to be equally accountable to them. There are going to be days when neither of you want to get out there, but you have to push yourselves to do it! Having a reliable partner will remind you of your important goals when you want to give up. You have to be willing to be there for them in the same way.
2. Partners Help Create Variety – Having a partner in crime when you’re working out also helps to keep you from falling into a boring routine. When you’re working out with someone else you can trade ideas and create new routines that are interesting and challenging for both of you.
3. Compete but Don’t Compare - The other type of motivation a partner brings to your work out naturally is competition. Who can run a little father? Maybe do a few more push ups? Perhaps you can make your warrior-2 pose more aligned. Having someone there to push you a bit further is a great way to get yourself to do more than you thought you could.
However, it’s important to remember that everyone has a different body type that burns fat and changes in different ways. So while you and your partner may compete in healthy ways, don’t compare weight goals or size. Comparing yourself to someone else in that way will only lead to disaster. Everyone’s lifestyle goals should be independent and created on their own body type and hopes.
4. The Strength in Numbers – Are you one of those really social types? No one said you had to stick to just one partner! Mallika herself has written about the great support of having a group of people that hold you accountable. Start a walking group with people at your office or take a fitness class. The people there already share an interest and you can band together to make your work outs even more effective!
Setting intentions happens whether we are conscious we are doing it or not. Our mindset, well being, thought process and actions stem from our intentions. I’ve become much more aware of my intentions thanks to Mallika Chopra, and the whole Intent team. Daily reminders to set an intention to follow through the day has been an expansive and fun journey that I aim to keep on the good foot for. Part of holding myself accountable for my intentions is sharing them with you all here and hearing what your intentions are. With support we can accomplish so much.
My intention for 2014 is to spread Strala to Guides (our word for Teacher) around the world. If you asked me 6 years ago if I would create my own “style” of yoga, I would have said absolutely not. I thought that was just about the most ego centered thing possible, and my aim with sharing yoga and mediation and healthy mindful practices was to help people connect with themselves, not to draw attention to myself as a Guru.
The more I taught and shared what I was sharing the more people continued to tell me, this was very different than other yoga. The style of Strala was almost crowd sourced. The people who came to the classes and the studio wanted to know the name, the system behind the movements, and how they could share this as well. For years I said, “Oh no, it’s just yoga. It’s just easy going yoga.” People kept pulling it out of me, wanting more, and wanting to share. People were already teaching Strala influenced classes years ago before there was a program outlined. People came, they loved what they experienced, and went on and shared and had success. It was really overwhelming to see it all emerge and I didn’t quite know how to handle or formulate at the time.
After constant feedback after every class about how great people felt and “What is this!” I knew there was something beyond my personality of the class, beyond my playlist, beyond my sequence, that people could teach. This was about Strala, not about me, and that was an incredible realization for me personally. I had finally uncovered, “How can I help.”
Because people were having so much success in their lives with practicing Strala and people were having so much success in leading Strala, I decided it was what I should focus all my energy on. I wanted to help and this was working, without any effort in the beginning really. I thought about the style, the movement vocabulary (from my dance background) the healing aspects, the philosophy of “how can I help” over “what can I prove” and how that all filtered into teaching the classes. Where to be in the room, how to touch and support people, rather than fix, permission and freedom to move how it feels good to move. Inhales lifting and expanding. Exhales softening and moving. Energy lifting up like a beach ball being bounced by a group of friends on the beach. The energetic, fun, authentic vibe. I began to formulate in the way my lifetime of dance and pedagogy informed me. I realized formulating a movement system is exactly who I am and what I can offer best. Strala means to radiate light. It’s what happens when people practice and it’s what happens to me when I teach people how to lead it.
My intention for 2014 is to spread Strala. I’ve been teaching the trainings for about 3 years, and the last year has become super energized, and expansive. I feel incredibly confident in the system. It’s about the Guides, not me, and it empowers so many. That makes me feel really great.
I’m traveling around the world leading Intensive trainings at SCLA and other facilities. My schedule is bananas. I can’t keep up with the demand which is super exciting. I’ll be training several other teachers that have been leading Strala for a while to teach the trainings and we will spread the ease and freedom of movement far and wide.
What’s your intention?
Tara Stiles is participating in our 2014 Year of Intent campaign where we encourage people to use Intent.com to reach their goals and show how intents manifest in daily life. Create an account today to get started or click here to follow and support Tara as she spends the year spreading Strala Yoga to the world.
Every year I set the same resolutions – lose 15 pounds, cut out refined sugar, meditate daily, exercise 5 times a week – resolutions that seem like nostalgic wishes by mid February. This year I set the intent I am living with the intent to feel energetic, creative, joyful, centered and inspired.
And, while I am making a commitment to work out more often and eat more mindfully, I am committing to physical activities that make me feel connected spiritually and full emotionally rather than torturing myself just to shed pounds.
I am discovering a love of yoga (believe it or not, I am not a yogi – read about it here!) through a group class I am doing with other mom friends. Historically, yoga has been a struggle for me as I have felt like I am “bad” at it. But this year I am approaching it differently – inspired, as I often am, by the guiding philosophy of my good friend Tara Stiles.
Tara and I recently hosted a SCLA event in San Francisco and as I watched Tara twist and turn in amazing ways to hip hop music during our event, I noticed the intention to find joy, creativity, and challenge by those in her class. Tara’s approach to yoga made it fun, rich and fulfilling for all those in the class, even if they couldn’t keep up with her!
In an interview I did with Tara last year, she talked about the joy she discovered in yoga: “(As a dancer), everything has to be perfect or you’re not completing the movement. That’s what was so exciting about yoga. You’re going to your own limit and finding the ease in that moment. From a mental, spiritual and emotional aspect it was definitely key. I was like, ‘I have to do this forever!’”
What I am enjoying about my own weekly yoga class is that I can do it at my own pace. And its social! I have as much fun chatting with the other mom friends as I do stretching and breathing. We’ve always been big supporters of yoga here on Intent and encourage all of you to give it a try if you’re looking for a practice that not only works you out but also helps you connect to your body through your mind and spirit.
I’ve also been on a few hikes on the lovely trails here in Santa Monica where I live, not checking my phone for emails, and walking in silence noticing the beauty of nature.
And, this weekend I plan to start running on the beach again – one of the most emotionally healing things I have done in the past. For my 40th birthday, I ran a half marathon and found a love for running because of how it made me feel emotionally. Working out with an activity that makes you feel happy and better about yourself is much healthier than doing something you hate because it’ll trim fat.
Hopefully my strategy of living with intent this year will help me realize some of the changes I am seeking in my life more effortlessly and with lasting impact. And more importantly, because I am having fun, feeling connected and inspired, I am anticipating my physical time, rather than feeling burdened by it. This will keep me motivated to stay on the path to healthier living!
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Do you ever notice when you make a decision to do something, suddenly a million opportunities present themselves to throw you off your game or steer you in a different direction? The first thing that has to happen after you are clear on an intention is to practice saying no to anything that does not serve it. This can come in the form of relationships, business opportunities, how you spend your free time, and more. And it can be extremely difficult!
When you’re making a shift in your life toward a new vision, one of the hardest things to do is discern which opportunities to accept, and which ones to decline. However, if you are clear on your intention and know what you are moving toward, saying “no” is a powerful way to affirm what it is you want and are creating. I see it as a way of sending a clear message to the Universe, propelling you forward in the best direction
For the past five years I have worked to build a thriving private yoga and Thai yoga massage practice. In the process of building that business I worked part-time in an unrelated field, plus taught many group classes to hone my yoga teaching skills and build my client base. Now, I’m happy to say, I have a full time private practice and can say no to opportunities that get in the way of my time with my clients.
This year though, my intent is to build a thriving online business to allow for maximum mobility in my life. Basically, I’m shifting gears so that in addition to my private clientele, I can reach people throughout the world with a variety of online offerings, including essential oils, meditation, and Soul-Care Sessions (my newest program). I am doing this to allow more opportunity for writing, travel, and spending time with my family who are scattered all over the globe.
Even though I am clear on what I am moving toward, it can still be amazingly difficult to turn down opportunities that show up. Since the start of the New Year, I have turned down 3 business opportunities that I determined would eat up time and attention from where I really want to direct it. Saying no was not easy though! I still have that fearful voice that thinks saying no means I’m ungrateful or entitled. Thankfully, largely through my meditation practice, I’ve learned how to turn the volume down on that voice, and turn the volume up on my intuition that gives me that gut reaction of what’s a good idea and what isn’t.
I don’t think there’s any real formula for this, but this is what I’ve observed about my own response.
Scenario 1: If someone makes an offer or proposal that right away feels good, exciting, and inspiring, I usually accept it. Sometimes fear will kick in after trying to discourage me, at which point I tell myself it’s worth a shot and if in the end I decide it’s not in my best interest, at least I tried.
Scenario 2: If someone proposes something that makes me hesitate, question, and feel uneasy, I usually say no thank you. But, if I don’t know right away it’s a no, I take time to think about it. Often then, that fearful voice will try to convince me that it’s a mistake to turn it down, but if I’m trying too hard to rationalize it into my life, I know it’s not right. Then I say no.
Like with anything worth developing, it’s a practice. Taking a moment to check in with how you feel, on a physical and spiritual plane, is always a good idea. There’s almost no decision that requires an immediate answer, so take the time to feel good about your response. Listen to your intuitive voice, and know that saying no doesn’t mean a stop to opportunities, but more likely an invitation for the right ones to appear.
I would love to have your support in my Year of Intent! You can follow me HERE.
By 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.
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Jan Bruce is the CEO and founder of meQuilibrium.com
Whenever you start a new diet or weight loss program there is one important question to ask yourself: why? Don’t stop yourself at the simple answer “Oh, I want to lose a few pounds to fit in those new jeans” or “I don’t want to feel self-conscious in a bathing suit.” Dig deeper. Many people begin the journey to permanent weight loss and overall wellness because they feel that being healthier will make them happier. While being healthier does give you more energy and confidence, you can’t expect it to cure all of your unhappiness. In fact, in Deepak Chopra’s new book “What Are You Hungry For?” he argues that tending to your personal and emotional wellbeing as you begin your weight loss program is absolutely key to making the changes stick.
While no one can claim to be happy constantly, Deepak advocates that being in tune and aware of your body and emotional state allows you to better fill its needs. “It’s an infallible kind of radar,” Deepak says, “Awareness allows you to sort out what you’re doing, how you feel, what you fear, hope and wish for – indeed everything in your life.”
You are living an unaware life when you unconsciously follow habits and rote behavior without question. Do you often let others take charge of your life or feel emotionally trapped by those around you? Isolating yourself and cutting off your connections to close friends and family can be another sign that you are out of tune with your body and need to increase your awareness to make permanent change.
You can help gain awareness by including a yoga practice or meditation in your diet and exercise plan. “Peaceful practices such as yoga or meditation to help build a refreshed sense of self,” explains Sports Club/LA nutritionist Karen Sherwood. “This is the glue that seals in the new lifestyle as the body begins to change physically, resulting in a new stream of motivation.”
Being aware and working to keep a positive attitude will inevitably help keep you motivated as you progress towards your goal, and push you over hurdles or plateaus you reach along the way.
“Making any change is very emotional, so if you are starting this change from a negative, pessimistic place or allow yourself to go to that negative place, you won’t succeed.” Ginger Mallory of Sports Club/LA says. “However, if you vow to remain positive no matter what challenges may come with making this change, you will succeed! Your state of mind going into this will absolutely make or break you.”
But how do you find that awareness and keep that positive attitude? If you feel yourself slipping try these tips from Deepak.
- Remember that you are both loved and loveable
- Appreciate where you are – Even if you are just starting out, recognize the power in making the decision to make a change versus where you were before you took the first step.
- Feel good about who you are – You are more than your shape or waist size. Remember that you are a worthy person and this process is only to make you healthier, not to change you in any way because you’re amazing the way you are.
- Maintain loving and supportive relationships – Support will be key in this process. Stay close to those who inspire you, push you to be better and support you on the days when you can’t get to that place of positivity by yourself. Let them help hold you up.
- Experience a deeper connection with a higher form of love – It doesn’t mean you have to prescribe to any specific religion, but connecting with a force or faith bigger than yourself can help you channel frustrations and negative feelings that arise out of your system. It can help buoy you during this transition and be another force to propel you forward.
This blog is part of our “What Are You Hungry For?” series with Sports Club/LA and to celebrate the release of Deepak Chopra’s latest book. Find out how you can win a copy of your own here and tell us what you are hungry for in the comments below. If you don’t want to wait for the give away you can purchase a copy of Deepak’s book today.
As I progressed with my morning yoga and stretching routine this morning, ribs and clavicle sore from a fall nearly two weeks ago, it occurred to me how often the decisions our brain makes directly impact the well-being of our body. My sweet body had no say in my decision to step from one countertop across to the other as I cleaned the cabinet tops of my daughter’s “new” vintage apartment. Mom wanted to be sure the kitchen was pristine for Natalie and her roommate. Natalie had no time to stop me as I said, “Spot me.” Misjudging the spread between counters, I went straight to the floor. Crash!
While VERY fortunate to not have had worse consequences, my brain’s poor decision put my body in jeopardy. My sweet body had no say in the matter until its voice spoke up in resulting discomfort and the process of healing over time.
How often do our brains put our bodies in predicaments, decisions resulting in compromised well-being? Be it a movement that results in injury or a poor food choice that leaves our stomach churning in misery, a decision that came from the brain leaves our body to bear the consequences.
These can be snap decisions or ongoing decisions (think excessive eating, smoking, over exercising). How do we give our body a voice? How do we let our body speak up BEFORE it gets jolted, pained or harmed? Remember, we get one body to experience this lifetime. It deserves respect and honor. And whether you see your body as a temple or not, it is THE primary home in which we live. So, how do we give it a voice in the decisions our brain subjects it to? Repeated discomfort from its decisions often don’t do the trick. Think eating the same food over and over that leaves us miserable, but we can’t resist because it’s so yummy.
Maybe some perspective is a pathway to bodily comfort and health. We have our body, mind, emotions and Spirit, a “quadrinity” of sorts that represents our wholeness. Does your quadrinity work as a team? Does your brain often step back and let your body, emotions and Spirit speak? How do we train our brain to give the others a voice that is heard?
For starters, being more CONSCIOUS of our body, habituating our brain to listen to the body is one substantive step. What did I feel when I was about to cross the kitchen in the air? I recall thinking, “It will be less work than getting down to the floor and climbing back up on the other side.” Did I hesitate? Not beyond the thought. But that very thought was a cue that that their was a consideration to heed, and a possible risk in following through. Otherwise, I would not have had that thought of an alternative.
Listening to our INNER voice, instead of the brain’s overpowering “just do it” is a skill that takes dedication to cultivate, be it through mindfulness or meditation training or another method that works for you.
An article I recently read about Ayurveda gave me profound perspective, a catalyst to listening more to my body, albeit I have a ways to go or I would not have attempted my kitchen counter leap. Our BODY is always in the PRESENT. It never lies. It speaks truth. Yet, our BRAIN is often in the PAST or the FUTURE. Putting our body first, giving it the opportunity to alert us to what it needs, or not, brings us present to the decisions we make can serve us better for the future and help us learn from the past. It is here that I come full circle to yoga, which in essence is about connecting the body and the mind through your breath.
So, when making that decision, when that soft voice yearns to be heard, take a DEEP breath. LISTEN. What is that voice saying? Whose voice beckons to be heard? Was my body’s voice trying to speak to say, “DON’T DO IT! I WILL GET HURT!” I need to be more conscious when my body’s voice is trying to keep my brain’s powerful voice at bay, protecting my body from yet another consequence that might leave me injured, sore, or wondering how to cure my upset stomach.
We have the tools. We just need to give our body its voice. As for our emotions and spirit, let’s take one smart step at a time. The segments of our quadrinity can all learn from one another.