Health & Fitness, massage therapy, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Uncategorized, Yoga

On Just Doing It

I’ve had a real bad case of “I don’t feeeeeel like it” lately. It’s often served with a side of, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” It’s a potent recipe for not getting *&#! done!

But, each day I am reminded that, I too, am getting old. I thought it wouldn’t happen to me. Somehow, with healthy eating and moderate exercise, I could forestall this fate.

But the grey hairs are glinting through the brown, catching the light with their steely, wayward shafts.

My body is getting all weird and mysterious and unpredictable – pretty sure it’s perimenopause.

I totally HATE driving after dark.

At some point, thousand of years of human history indicate that the tomorrows will run out.

I’ve deduced that my best option is to DO the thing, even if I don’t feel like it. Even if it’s not perfect. Even if it might not work. Even if I get embarrassed. Even if I’m inconsistent and don’t DO the thing EVERY day. I just need to do it.

So here is my gift of imperfection to you!

I hosted a Gratitude Workshop last week, and here are two goodies I would like to share with you:

  1. A worksheet you can use to review 2020, pulling out 3 good memories from each month. Warning – it’s hard!! In the workshop, we started with December and worked backwards. I only made it to September, truth be told. But just reviewing those few months gave us some good insights. At the end of the worksheet are 2 exercises that you can use to set yourself up for a positive 2021.
  2. A guided gratitude meditation (courtesy of ChangeToChill.org) to get your mind and heart in a good space to complete the worksheet.

Oh! And why Gratitude? It helps us focus on the positive, improve wellbeing, improves symptoms of illness and depression, results in more optimism and happiness, stronger relationships, more generous behavior, etc. Science says!! I probably should have led with that…

Let me know what you think of the worksheet and/or the meditation. If you have any burning questions on manual therapy, meditation, thought-work, send me a note!! I live to serve (and write).

Love, Hlo.

Health & Fitness, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Yoga

Meditation Experiment of n=1

Shoot. I just logged in to make this post and realized that I haven’t made an update since starting the Primal Challenge.  So, here is the nutshell version:  I did awesome until about day 11 or 12, when we went to Front Street, and a glass of wine sounded really good, so I had one. And then off the wagon I went. I still did really well on my 10 minutes/day meditation and walking for 30 minutes/day.  But the no-alcohol for 30 days was a fail.    This lack of self-control on my part fascinates me. I don’t drink A LOT – just regularly, so why is it so hard for me to take a measly 3 weeks off?  I have an emotional/mental blind spot here that needs some work, I believe.

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about today was my meditation practice.  I have been working with a therapist, trying to understand who I am and what I want. One way to do this, is to tune in to your intuition.  I have always been pretty intuitive, when it comes to interacting with other people, but when it comes to understanding how I myself feel and what I really want, my intuition fails me  – it’s yet another blind spot!

My therapist recommended using a mantra mediation. She handed me a sheet of Sanskrit phrases, with the English translation next to them. She encouraged me to pick one that resonated. I read, “Aieem Namah” and the English translation (My true self is playful and wise), and for some reason it literally made me laugh out loud. I loved the juxtaposition of the idea of being playful and wise. My mantra was chosen.

She guided me through a 15 minute meditation where we focused on bringing awareness to the body, then the breath, and then to the mantra.  The mantra became an anchor to bring my mind back over and over again as it continued to do what a mind does, which is think incessantly (and very annoyingly, I might add).  When, at the end up the meditation, she told me to let go of the mantra, I did so reluctantly. Having it there as a base of operations was comforting.

My therapist recorded the meditation and sent it to me. For the past 2-3 weeks, I have been listening to either the recording mediation, or my own internal version, for 15 minutes a day.  This is the first time I have ever really devoted myself to a single type of meditation for that long. What are the results?

The results are…interesting.  I feel as if I am less reactive, which is good. But I also feel as if I am more exposed – more raw and open to the energies of the people around me – even more open to the general unease of the entire populace of the U.S. right now.  Everything in my life is going quite well – work is very calm, my yoga workshops are going well, I am reading lots of interesting books, my family is fairly healthy and happy. There is no reason for me to be anxious. Yet I am anxious. Anxious in my chest – a physical sensation with no conscious mental driver. I feel something and do not know why.  I am pinning it on meditation and its opening of subtle body receptors.

But, honestly, the more I learn about us humans, the more I realize how unbelievably complex we are.  Everything we think, eat, drink, breathe, and do has a emotional, mental, and physical effect.  How does one parse out which of the varying inputs is the one causing the shift???  I need an Hlo in Universe B who could act as a control for my experiments.

Consequently, while I cannot with 100% conviction say that meditation is a good thing, I CAN say that I do believe it is making me more aware, more conscious, more in tune with the universe around me.  I look forward to it daily and even awake at 4:5oAM each morning to make sure I fit it in before my day slips through my fingers.

I will continue with this experiment and will let you know if I finally settle on a thumbs up or thumbs down re: meditation. Although, the older I get and the more I learn, the more I realize that the universe strives for balance in all things, so meditation, like anything in life, is probably not good or bad, it just is.

Health & Fitness, meditation, yoga nidra, somatic meditation, body-based meditation, meditation for beginners, Paleo

Primal Reboot – Week 1

I am doing another Primal Challenge with a few friends.  Summer, counter-intuitively, always means weight gain for me.  Why?  Because even though we are outside more and get more exercise in, we are also biking to the brewery or to lunches consisting of famous Iowa tenderloins and hand-cut fries.  Even a 2-hour bike ride stands no chance against a couple of drinks and nachos.

We started the Challenge on Monday.  My main goals for the challenge are:  1) No alcohol for 21 days, 2) Meditate for at least 10 mins daily, and 3) Walk outside for at least 30 mins daily.  You may think  that these are not exactly “stretch” goals for someone who is pretty healthy.  But, trust me, they are!  Between working full-time, teaching yoga part-time, prepping for the classes, sleeping, eating, continuing my movement education, etc., my days get really full.  I have not been doing a good job of prioritizing the behaviors that I preach in my yoga classes.  Also, I’ve fallen into the habit of having 1-2 drinks each night.  So that is what I’m mainly tackling this go-around.

I have been doing really well so far!  No drinks for 7 days means my stomach is flatter (less bloated), and my sleep quality has VASTLY improved.  While I do not drink copious of alcohol and rarely ever get drunk, I know that alcohol really affects hormone levels (it’s pro-estrogenic), thus negatively affecting your risk of breast cancer.  It also saps my evening productivity something fierce!  I listened to a podcast with James Swanwick, and his experience going alcohol-free really made me question the innocuousness of my habit.  For some additional information on the effects of alcohol, check out this post written by James.

Prioritizing walking and meditation has also made me re-vamp my morning routine.  While I would love to read articles online for an hour each morning while drinking my coffee, instead, I drink one coffee, hop in the shower, go for a walk, and then meditate, and then eat breakfast and then go to work.  If I don’t take care of these two goals in the morning, the day escapes me.

Walking in the morning as the sun comes up is a beautiful way to start the day.  I love hearing the wind in the trees and watching the light slowly illuminate the neighborhood.  It’s also a good test of my proprioceptive skills, and I have to be cautious of ancient sidewalks dipping and rising unexpectedly.

And meditation.  Wow.  Lately I have been feeling more calm, less reactive, and more joyful.  Is it the meditation?  Is it because work is not really stressful right now? Is it because I am teaching more (which I love)?  Is it because I am sleeping better?  That’s the problem with changing multiple behaviors at the same time. I don’t have a control group. 🙂  I think it’s the meditation though – it trains me to take that second breath before reacting which gives me time to observe my instinctual response and reflect on whether it’s really necessary.  What story am I telling myself that is causing me to get fired up?  Is there another reasonable story that will help me maintain my equanimity?  Oh, I still get fired up, but at least now I am more aware of it, and it’s a *slightly* more conscious reaction.

There you have it, Primal Reboot Week 1.  If you are interested in learning more about the Primal Challenge, check out this link, or hit me up in the comments with questions.

Hope you have a fabulous Sunday and can get out and enjoy the crisp sunshine and crackling leaves.

Take care,

-Hlo