This week seemed like a productive week for me and when I got my stats I realized it really was just as it felt. I was able to get in all my yoga as well and I’m turning my morning routine into a combo of cardio, yoga and finishing with meditation. Therefore, week after week my steps are not as much as they once were but I still see 12K steps a day as success.
Total steps – 84,104
Average daily = 12,015
Miles – 32.22
Floors – 124
I’m hoping to help you get going on an easy meditation practice. The first thing you need is commitment as this will not work without it. No matter how easy it may seem if you are not truly committed to the practice than even minutes a day are going to seem like an unachievable chore. Once you have made the commitment for a few minutes a day pick your spot. Anywhere that is quiet, comfortable and decide if you will be sitting on the floor or in a chair. If you are choosing the floor than having a wall you can sit against will be helpful for keeping a good posture and allowing breath to move easily. If you are choosing a chair than make sure the chair is comfortable but not too comfortable. You will need to be able to have your feet flat on the floor and your back straight for good breathing techniques.
I prefer sitting on the floor and use a bolster to lift my hips up a bit but a blanket, block, cushion or nothing would work just fine too. I sit on the bolster with my back against a wall. My shoulder blades rest on the wall but my head does not as I’m looking for a long neutral spine. I cross my legs in easy sitting pose and rest my hands in my lap but you can really put your hands anywhere that is comfortable. The timing can be any amount of time you choose and starting out with 2-3 minutes a day is really easy way to find a routine in meditation. Most smart phones have a timer, or you can use a song you like that is about 2-3 minutes long. There are meditation aps you can use or even you tube. My ideal scenario is to put on a song that I enjoy or a few songs if I am going to be meditating for a while but one song is plenty for starting out. Once the song starts sit quietly and start breathing. This is not forceful breathing or deep breathing but normal breathing until you find the rhythm of your breath. Concentrate on where your breath takes you and concentrate on that area. If you go to your belly then focus on your belly, if you feel it in the tip of your nose than concentrate there. This is where it gets important to find your focus as thoughts will be running in and out of your mind.
The idea is not to stop the thoughts because that just won’t happen but slow the thoughts down, acknowledge them and let them go. If you prefer counting your breaths do you so if you like to count your inhale for a count of 4,6 or 8 then mimic your exhale with the same number. Perhaps you start with a 4 count and build up to an 8 count as you spend more time meditating. This is where it can get very personal for you and what works for you. Finding quiet for a few minutes every day is so beneficial and I even read that it can decrease inflammation in the body. With MCTD I carry a lot of inflammation in my body so reducing even a little is a benefit for me. Deciding when you will meditate is also important because if you are feeling rushed when you are first learning you may not be able to quiet the mind and may feel as though you cannot master the art of meditation but with time you will thoroughly enjoy those moments of quiet whenever and wherever you can get them. Don’t give up to soon and don’t think you can’t do it because just like everything else in life this takes practice too. Once you can sit for 2-3 minutes than add 1 minute a week so that you are practicing just a little bit longer each time and once you find that this becomes a piece of cake then sitting quietly for 10-30 minutes will just be so enjoyable but it takes time, practice and even a little work.
The other piece of advice I will offer is that try to do it every day. If you miss a day ok but don’t miss 2 days in a row as finding the routine is what really makes it work and if you are only doing a couple days a week that is not a routine. If something has to give it usually are things that are not routine for you. Once it is a part of your routine you may not need to think about it as much and can play with what works for you. Maybe you have a mantra, maybe you just sit and watch your thoughts come and go, either way you will find your way. Using aps is helpful in the beginning because they use either soothing words or music and have their own timers so you just push the button and off you go. Enjoy it, practice it, and embrace what it has to offer so that you can make it part of your day and your life.
My stats ebb and flow with my life which is really what I want because I need more walking and sometimes I need less walking. I try to stay active every day but some days are harder than others. If I had this down to a science it wouldn’t be real life. This week my steps decreased but my body and mind were tired so I focused more on my mat and less on finding my sweat.
Total steps – 79,802
Average – 11,400
Miles – 30.58
Floors – 113
This week is not starting off so well with steps either but my meditation is coming along quite nicely and sometimes I find that I need some quiet time with my thoughts more than I need other stuff. I still enjoy walking very much along with spinning and even weight training but my body fights fatigue and I need to listen to the inner voice that says “not today”
My motto for the next several months is “just keep practicing” so every free moment I get I am on my mat with my journal and running through sequences. These are sequences I have found, made up and even borrowed from my instructors (with their permission of course) the more I practice the more center I am becoming. The stronger I am becoming as well as I watch my lunges become deeper, as I am able to hold my planks longer, and how I watch myself go into crow and tripod stands. What does this all mean? It means that with passion and practice I truly believe I can do anything. You might be thinking, but isn’t that true for most people? I would say yes it is but there was a time when I wasn’t sure what I was going to be capable of.
Just five short years ago when I first met my trainer I was a cardio fanatic and found myself walking for hours and would be on the elliptical machine for 90 minutes at a time but if I had to lift any I would worry that my hands would not be strong enough to hold it and that my shoulders would give out and start hurting. I treated my upper body as though it was just a section that had to be there but a section I had no faith in. I would explain to him that I wanted stronger legs and core but that I worried about my upper body and nothing would go over my head. He humored me and allowed this for a very long time until he just didn’t and made me realize I’m stronger that I think I am. Push-ups are a normal part of my routine, shoulder presses are mandatory and holding very heavy weights with these fat man hands is part of my life. I will say that when I’m lifting heavy I do need wraps for extra security to make sure I don’t drop the weights as that would be worse for my body in the long run. They are a crutch and one that I’m not afraid to admit allows me security to push the limits on my legs, core and arms instead of testing the limits of my hands. I have struggled with my hands since Aug 14th 2003 when I didn’t know why they were purple all the time, swollen to the point of not being able to make fists and so sore that I sometimes thought it would be better to remove my thumbs than have them constantly in my way.
My hands are still the most challenging part of my MCTD. My hands are not lady like hands they truly are mitts of purple meat that sometimes work for me and sometimes don’t. I spend at least an entire session of PT every few weeks just on my hands. I have tried everything to keep the circulation moving and although I can live with the beautiful purple hue and the questions that come along with why they look the way they do I wish I could decrease the swelling and make them more part of my body not “just these things.” However, what I am learning slowly is that even with mitts I am able to do my yoga poses. I can feel the mat under the entire enormous palm and with the strength training I have been doing I am not worried about my wrists and hands when I’m on my yoga mat. I worry about them other times but my mind is so centered and focused when I step on my mat that I know either I will do a posture or I won’t. Today if I don’t that means tomorrow I may and just keep practicing.
Since Oct I have been trying to do a head stand, forearm stand, tripod stand and even wall stands. The act of being on my head is very uncomfortable. I feel a tremendous pressure in my eyes, my neck hurts and I’m so worried about hurting myself. I have very similar feelings to my head and neck that I once had with my shoulders and elbows. I babied them so much and now I’m babying my head and neck. I realized this about 3 weeks ago and in one of my training classes our instructor said “if you want it bad enough you will practice enough to do it. One day you may just be able to do the unimaginable.” I trust her as much as I trust my trainer which is a ton and although my yoga practice is very personal I do believe that she wouldn’t want me to do anything that she didn’t believe I could do.
Last training session was spent completely on our heads. I mean every form of being on our heads. I was concerned, nervous, slightly embarrassed because I cannot do this stuff but what I do is just kneel on all fours and put the top of the my head on my mat every single day even if just for a few moments. It doesn’t seem like much but at the same time I’m training the muscles in my neck and eyes just like I train the muscles in my shoulders, core and quads. The process of strength is the same the body part just changes. At last on Sat I got into tripod stand. I wasn’t there long but long enough to say I officially accomplished this feat and shared that moment with my fellow yogis. Life takes practice and passion. Everything we do takes passion and practice whether work, play, relationships and anything else that is important to us. My husband sees that this passion and practice really can work and is hoping I put through as much passion and practice with my golf game as I do my yoga practice. The only thing is I’m not trying to make a career out of my golf game like I am my yoga practice.
I did not participate in any challenges this week but there were a lot of steps taken with hefty snow removal over several days and pushing the snow blower back and forth over the driver multiple times. Just life in general can generate a lot of steps when we aren’t even looking.
Total steps – 92,881
Daily average – 13,269
Miles – 35.5
Floors – 177
Let life get in your way and watch the steps add up.