Today’s blog post is from Linda Naini, MPH, CCRP (yogi, wellness coach, meditation teacher, health analyst, and my friend). You can occasionally find Linda taking a class, leading a meditation session, or offering one of her unique workshops at extendYoga. And great news… she’s leading her Rooted In Bliss meditation classes every 1st Sunday of the month, 5:30pm-6:20pm, at extendYoga– starts in March 2014!
I recently read an article on Mindfulness Meditation entitled, “What the Focus This?” This blog is my attempt to answer that question in preparation for the meditation class I will be leading at extendYoga on every first Sunday of the month.
What is this Mindfulness Meditation thing?
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of pausing and noticing your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and environment in the present moment without judgment. So instead of imagining the future or rehashing the past, we give ourselves the space to be RIGHT HERE-RIGHT NOW.
Why should I make time for this practice in my busy schedule?
Thanks to extensive research in the past few years, we now know that mindfulness meditation can help alleviate depression, anxiety, pain, and high blood pressure. It’s also been shown to help us enhance our focus, concentration, decision making, and immune response.
Many of you have read articles noting these finding and you may have thought that trying mindfulness meditation could potentially help with your sleep, productivity, peace of mind, and overall happiness.
But you just don’t have the time to add yet another thing to your life.
I hear you! And I’m with you! And I’ve got two things to say about that:
1) Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and at any time. So it can be done while driving to work, washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, or running errands. AND we can also benefit a lot from having a “formal” practice. This brings me to:
2) I too used to flirt with the idea of meditation and felt that I didn’t have time for it. So what happened?
Why do I now practice Mindfulness Meditation on a regular basis?
“Between a stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” -Viktor Frankl
On February 5, 2010, the snowmageddon storm gave me the pause I needed to notice the “space” in my internal storm. Without the pause, we usually go to our “feel good quick” solution which is more of a reaction than a response. My internal storm was what I called life at the time.
Often we run away from what feels bad in an attempt to save ourselves from the pain. And as the old age adage goes:
“The only way out is through.” -Robert Frost
“What we resist persists.” -Carl Jung
I was able to pause long enough to see what was here and now; my perfect storm of a dying father, a lengthy home renovation, a relationship ending, and stressful work environment which I had been covering up by busying myself and doing what “needed” to get done. Slowing down and noticing this space between stimulus and response, allowed me the choice to pause and feel the pain that was underneath my anxiety around this storm. The “ugly” crying that followed was very liberating and I wanted more so I signed up for a 6 week meditation class through the Insight Meditation Community of Washington.
As with all practices, it’s a practice: so I took the class, continued to pause and move through emotions and started noticing a bit more fluidity in my life. Because of my mindfulness practice, I was able to have moments of presence with my dad that I will cherish for the rest of my life. My dad passed away a few months later and my practice seemed to leave with him. I was back in “doing” mode, engaging in every opportunity to keep busy.
Then came my second pause, just as powerful and effective as snowmageddon, and in a much more dynamic, attractive, and unforgettable package: I attended my first restorative yoga class with Greg Marzullo. He was reciting a poem from Walt Whitman and as I laid there in Supta Baddha Konasana, he said:
“Has any one supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it.”
And there it was again, the pause that allowed me to see the space where I could either choose to busy my mind in that moment or feel what was there. And feel I did. I cried my heart out in that class. Again, I felt light and a bit more fluidity in my life. Since that time, I have continued the practice of pausing through meditation and yoga. And the combination has allowed me to open to so much possibility in my life. The love, opportunities, and joy that I am now able to experience more fully and frequently are well worth my 20-30 minute meditation practice each day.
Now when I take time to pause, I still have my moments of pain, and I also have many more moments of gratitude, love, and peace.
So what better place than here and what better time than now?
Why not gift yourself with pausing and noticing your breath for the next 5 minutes? Taking a few minutes to notice each inhalation and each exhalation without trying to change anything. Give it a try. It’s amazing what can show up! What can move, what can shift, and what can grow.
Linda is passionate about helping clients of all ages live their best and most authentic life. As a certified Wellness Coach through the Maryland University of Integrative Health, she loves creating and offering fun, effective, and focused programs for groups and individuals that combine research-proven techniques with ancient traditions from around the globe. She also offers private sessions via telephone, skype, or in person at Rooted In Bliss in North Bethesda, Maryland.