I woke up this morning and realized I’m at 225 days without a flare so this is a great start to the new year. We don’t have to wait until New Year’s Day to make changes in our lives or set goals but it seems easier to do so when it seems the slate has been cleaned and the new year ahead is full of opportunities. I started my day by teaching a yoga class and I started by saying I think we should ease into the new year and what I heard back was no bring it. Most people are tired New Year’s Day, most people haven’t been sleeping enough, eating out of the ordinary, drinking more than they normally would and we should probably all let our bodies rest but instead we wake up on the first day of the new year and want to be challenged. Whether in a spin class, a new facebook challenge, or even a yoga class. We want that push to get us started in the new year right. We all look for this, but what is the drive? I don’t have the answer to this question as I’m still trying to figure out what drives me to do all I do, and try all the things I try. The people around me wonder where my energy comes from, where my drive comes from and what my boundary is. The only thing I know for certain is that I do as much as I can on days that I feel good because it isn’t every day that my body is running at 85% and never at 100% these days, but I do what I do because I can. If you have been with me since the beginning there was a time when I couldn’t walk and with therapy walking 2000 steps a day was a chore and took all day, now I hit 10,000 steps usually by noon, because my legs work, because my body functions. I do hours of yoga because I have the strength in my arms, elbows and wrists. I do what I do because I have worked to get here and part of me is afraid it could be taken away at any moment. I live in the now as best as I can, but there is a lingering fear that my body could and probably will some day long from now not do what it does today. I believe I will always be able to walk and I will always be able to do yoga. That is where I put my focus, but I’m crazy about spinning. I’m crazy about trying new things, and I’m crazy about succeeding.
I don’t know what this New Year will bring, but I am open to all the events that come my way. I know I will not like everything that I’m faced with this year, but I will face anything with calm, peace and grace. I will continue to encourage all of my yoga students to do the same and challenge them as they need and let them rest when they must without judgment. Happy New Year to you all and hope your year brings you health, happiness, and peace and may this year bring you everything you need.
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.