Archive for July, 2012


MuttsComics.com on Facebook – Further evidence that cats are, indeed, Zen masters ๐Ÿ™‚

I stuck to it. Kinda. I missed a couple of 3 days when I was waaay too tired and realized that I would be nodding off and unable to focus. The first day I missed was a challenge – I challenged myself to miss a day and not obsess and feel guilty about it. To make room for it, as Liz suggested in an email. I realized that I was so attached to not missing a day that it was hard to make room for missing one. So I did. From there on, I noticed it is easy to start going down a slippery slope. I made up the time on the following day (if that counts for something) but in terms of maintaining the habit, it is important to not miss days. There’s some research I read about that if you slip once you are more likely to give everything up – as in, when you eat a cookie on a diet, and then give up the entire diet (I am not an advocate of dieting, btw).

I loved the Hamsa meditation and it came easy to me. This week’s meditation, not so much. It is about focusing on the space in between the breaths. I am having a hard time with it. It doesn’t come naturally, I tense up, focus too much, can’t leave my breath flow at its natural pace, and spend the time, overall, trying too hard. I don’t think it’s about trying too hard. I’ll keep practicing it for another day or so, ย but I do not think this type of meditation is for me.

I recognize the importance of the space between breaths as a portal. I remember it from one of my first readings in this area (Eckhart Tolle). I just don’t think I’m ready – or maybe it’s something that should be practiced after asana and pranayama, when the space between the breaths lengthens naturally. I remember that feeling from a breathing class with Max Strom. After one hour of very deep breathing, the space between the breaths was long and peaceful, almost as if my body didn’t need to breathe for long periods of time.

I loved the Mutts strip above (thank you, Dr. V, the lovely veterinarian and amazing writer, for bringing it across my screen) and it reminded me that one thing I would like to start is a gratitude practice. I still have the gratitude journal Liz gave me a few years ago… and still a lot of blank pages in it.

So many things I’d like to do, so little time.

How do you make room for regular practice (yoga, meditation, gratitude, arts, cooking) in your life?

Namaste from Blue Lotus Yoga,

M

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As sitting for 10 minutes a day got filed in my mind as “should do” or “have to do” I started noticing a tendency to procrastinate. This procrastination is a form of resistance, of opposing control and authority. It has been very interesting to dig deeper and figure out where this comes from. Who am I trying to oppose? What control have I lost that I am trying to regain? Childhood sit, of course. But it’s good that I noticed it and I can attempt to work through it, because these days I end up resisting and opposing myself, which is not something that serves me well.

Hamsa meditation

This week is a different kind of meditation – a mantra aligned with the in-breath (ham) and the out-breath (sa). More about hamsa meditation on Yoga Journal’s site. I try to be cautious about mantra meditations, because I know just enough to understand that if mispronounced, or not chosen well for each particular person, they can be misleading (OK, my Hindu husband is the source of this information). But I am open to trying, and seeing how it feels.

And after only 2 days of hamsa meditation, I find that this is powerful stuff for me. It feels good, it resonates well with my being. I am surprised at how quickly it brings me to a very peaceful, quiet state. Then, I stop on the brink of something and I am afraid to let go because I don’t know what’s beyond. So my mind returns to thinking. And the mantra. And back to the brink. And repeat 3-4 times in the space of only 10 minutes. I guess that’s the problem of not having immediate access to a trusted teacher who can guide you or coach you or catch you if you fall.

This site has what seems to be a more in-depth explanation of the hamsa meditation, though I am in no position to evaluate the credibility of this information. [Update]But, the more I read the information on this site, the more I like it. This article about the levels and dimensions of consciousness may provide some answers as to what that brink I experienced is about.

Have you had similar experiences?

Check, check, and check.

Day 3 – lying in bed, last thing before going to sleep. Too tired to go upstairs, but decided I didn’t want to deal with the disappointment of missing a day.

Day 4 – who needs a mindfulness bell when Zen master Luna Blue is there to squeak and bring my mind back to reality?

Day 5 – this blogging thing helps! I was thinking that I didn’t blog the previous days and remembered that I had not sat yesterday. So went upstairs and sat for 10 minutes before going out to a local street festival.

Some days are better than others, some days feel like punching the clock, but it’s OK – what matters here is the discipline that will hopefully help create a daily habit.

Namaste from blue lotus,
M

Today I had to leave the house in a hurry (for a noon meeting… I know, I know) so I didn’t sit before getting started. I took the new kitty to the vet, and when I came back around 4 pm, I had some time to work before heading to a Yoga class. I sat down to read through a manuscript and realized I felt tired and unfocused – and that I felt the need to meditate and quiet down.

I am glad I payed attention to what my mind needed and went upstairs to sit for 10 minutes. It was a short but very sweet session. For a few precious seconds my mind stayed with me and the breath, and my entire being felt light and peaceful.

Of course, this sitting got so much better once Zen master Ziggy decided to supervise. ๐Ÿ™‚

Zen master Ziggy finding (en)light(ment) in the Yoga room

Later, during Yoga class, the teacher said, “There is always time for one deep breath.” So true. I’d like to remember that. There is always time for one deep breath and there is always time for a quick 3-minuteย  meditation, even at the office, to find a bit of stillness and clarity to move on with the day. Funny thing is, the water mug on my desk reads “Breathe.” I’ve become rather skilled at not seeing it…

Loved this, and it was easy to make.

Walnut pesto, sun-dried tomato and tofu pasta

Walnut pesto, sun-dried tomato and tofu pasta

The interesting part here is the tofu. I cubed it, froze it, defrost it (this takes the water out of it), marinated it in lemon juice+dill+soy sauce, pan-fried it, then added the cooked pasta, the pesto, and the sun-dried tomatoes. With a bit of planning ahead (I made the pesto this past weekend, and froze the tofu as soon as I bought it, so all I had to do was defrost and marinate overnight), this is a very easy recipe.

The tofu was very lemony and flavorful, and the right texture – not soft and crumbly, not hard, not chewy.

Served with an arugula salad with cantaloupe and goat cheese, which was amazing, but I forgot to photograph.

cantaloupe arugula salad

cantaloupe arugula salad from Vegetarian Times

Panzanella bread salad

For this one I pretty much followed the Fresh 20 recipe. It was yummy, healthy, filling. Served with black bean burger on top. It’s a salad with vegetables, chick peas, toasted bread, and feta cheese.

There are many recipes out there, here’s one for panzanella bread salad from allrecipes.com.

Did it.

Didn’t feel like it.

Tried not to peek at the timer every few seconds, though that’s what my mind did.

But I sat until the timer rang 10 minutes.

YAY!!!!

๐Ÿ™‚

Namaste,

M

I have had the intention to establish a daily meditation habit for… oh, I don’t know, years now. Here I am, trying again, this time I signed up for Yoga Journal’s Meditation Revolution – 28 days of meditation, hopefully enough to create a habit.

I love Sally Kempton’s columns in YJ, and am excited that she is the guide of this 28 day exercise. That’s the main reason why I did not turn off the recording today and just focused on breath. I was tempted to do so, as I found the constant talking distracted from breath awareness. But then, I felt I did need a guide – someone to be with me in (virtual and electronic) spirit, so I kept it on.

I set my meditation timerย  (iTunes link) for 10 minutes, and sat for a couple of minutes longer than the YJ recording.

My mind was drawn to work – the need to so so (I need to revise and resubmit a grant proposal), the lack of motivation to do so, as well as some inquiry into this lack of motivation. I really needed the timer to bring me back to the present moment! But on the upside, I did get some good, specific ideas about how to proceed with my work, and now I am motivated to get them done.

Finding the time during my usual hectic days is usually a challenge (or a poor excuse). But it’s summer now, and days are slower, so I stepped into the yoga room right after taking a shower. I usually rush through my shower and run to work afterwards, but I know it is possible to find 10 minutes before leaving the house to sit. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hopefully, if I establish this habit during the summer, I will be able to maintain it when the semester starts.

Is anybody with me on this 28 day journey? Any and all company and support would be most welcome! Did you meditate today? Do you have any tips for sticking with a home practice, whether yoga or meditation?

May all beings everywhere be happy and free. ๐Ÿ™‚

Namaste,
M

In a (continuing) effort to cook our own food, I bought a Groupon for this service called Fresh 20. They send weekly meal plans (vegetarian and gluten-free available!) with shopping lists and nutrition information and thus take the thinking out of cooking. Given that for me, the creative part takes more time (and anguish) than the prep itself, it seemed the perfect solution! I just activated my subscription (vegetarian) and I am happy to report that the recipes are interesting and appealing. But I didn’t make them. And that’s OK. Because they provided inspiration and ideas, so I couldn’t help but put my own twist on things.

So, what was for dinner yesterday?

Lentil-potato cakes, inspired by Fresh 20’s Mediterranean cakes recipe. I made mine with cooked lentils and potatoes, egg, bread, lots of parsley and dill, Moroccan seasoning, and added in peas and carrots for a bit of color and texture variation.

Lentil potato cakes

And watermelon salad with feta cheese, almonds, and mint, served with warm pita (in our case, store-bought naan):

Watermelon salad with feta and almonds

It was a nice summer meal, and most of the time was taken by boiling the lentils and potatoes, so I guess it counts as easy? – OK, medium difficulty ๐Ÿ™‚