Easing Into Yoga : A Relaxing Morning Stretch Series

Want more yoga and exercise? Become a woods warrior, try this lower body workout, then end the day with bedtime stretches that relieve lower back pain. Check out my 200hour yoga teacher training experience and read about the school I attended here.

live seasoned relaxing yoga

If you’re reading this at posting time, good morning! Start your day off right with a relaxing series of stretches that are perfect for the morning time.  This routine starts in child’s pose, moves to all fours then up into downward facing dog, but don’t stress, you’ll be back down on the mat in no time.  Start each day by adding length to your spine, stretching out those hips and quads, and opening your chest and shoulders, you’ll be happy you did and it will take less than fifteen minutes.  This whole routine is meant to be a casual flow so once you’re familiar with the poses, move in and out of positions with fluidity.

Continue reading

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Two Bits

Each Friday we share some tidbits from our week.  We want to break down these internet barriers and invite you into our lives and we’re hoping you’ll do the same.  You are welcome to share a bit of your week or day in the comments, or if they’re better represented by a photo, tag us on instagram @liveseasoned

Katie here :

liveseasoned_fall2015_sept19

I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve checkin in on a Friday (thanks for keeping this ship afloat, Sarah!). This is our second full week at home and it felt so nice. We’ve found our rhythm with plenty of park visits, friend time, and family time (popsicle time!). I feel so lucky that I made it to two yoga classes this week! And when everyone is tucked in and the house is quiet, my thoughts turn to all of the great things that I’m hoping to do this fall, which includes planning Christmas gifts! Did I speak too soon? Don’t worry, I haven’t done anything other than think.

Sarah here :

liveseasoned_fall15_yoga teacher training

Last week, I gave you a peek into my days at the 200 hour yoga teacher training in Pokhara, Nepal.  I’ve just completed day ten and holy heck am I exhausted!  I actually skipped yoga philosophy and yoga nidra today (my first time playing hooky!) so that I could take a much needed four-hour nap.  I woke up feeling refreshed and excited about the rest of the day so let’s hope that little bit of energy carries me through the rest of the week.  Tonight I’m trying to be in bed by 9pm instead of my usually 11pm.  Besides lack of sleep, everything else is going well.  I’m a bit better at chanting sanskrit mantras and holding handstands (against the wall) than I was last week.  The daily meditation practices keep getting better and better and I can’t wait until I have some time back in the states to share in detail all of the beautiful things we’ve been working on here.

I also met some really great girls that I’ll be hiking the Annapurna Circuit with once our teacher training wraps up in October.  I can’t wait to hike around majestic peaks with my giggling yoga ladies.  I have a feeling this winter back in the U.S. will feel a little dull after all these adventures are over.  What do you have planned for the weekend?  Some hiking or cooking, or flying somewhere? Remember that it’s Clean Up The World Weekend!

liveseasoned fall15 yoga teacher training

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Rishikul Yogshala Yoga Teacher Training Schedule

Take a look inside Rishikul Yogshala’s 200 hour yoga teacher training in Pokhara, Nepal.liveseasoned_fall_nepal yoga teacher training7

liveseasoned_fall_nepal yoga teacher training12

liveseasoned_fall_nepal yoga teacher training4 liveseasoned_fall_nepal yoga teacher training9  liveseasoned_fall_nepal yoga teacher training13 liveseasoned_fall_nepal yoga teacher training16 liveseasoned_fall_nepal yoga teacher training18 liveseasoned_fall_nepal yoga teacher training20

Sarah here :

Today marks my fourth full day of yoga teacher training in Pokhara, Nepal.  Only one more day and then I have a whole half day to myself on Sunday!  Because we’re squeezing a 200 hour training into 28 days, the schedule is absolutely packed.  I thought it would be fun to share it here to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to the past week.

  • 5-5:30AM Morning Tea
  • 5:30-7 Hatha Yoga
  • 7-7:15 Tea Break
  • 7:15-8:15 Pranayama aka breath work
  • 8:15-9 Yoga Nidra
  • 9-10:30 Breakfast
  • 10:30-11:45 Yoga Philosophy
  • 11:45-noon Tea Break
  • noon-1PM Mantra Yoga aka chanting sanskrit
  • 1:15-3 Lunch & Rest aka Lunch and shopping at my new favorite store
  • 3-4 Yoga Anatomy
  • 4-6 Ashtanga Yoga
  • 6:15-7:15 Meditation – Today the theme was self love. It was so amazing.
  • 7:30-8:30 Dinner

So that’s that. Lots of learning, practicing and tea all day long.  Each teacher is inspiring and full of knowledge.  I feel extremely lucky to be here and that feeling carries me through the long days.  If you’re wondering how we fill three and a half hours of asana practice, just imagine holding each pose for an excruciating amount of time and then repeating that four or five times.  As much as I hate holding wheel for ten breaths, it’s kind of nice to go into each pose slowly with so much detailed instruction.  Today we worked on handstands and arm balances in the morning and in the afternoon so. many. down. dogs.

I’m pretty sore, but as of today, I can honestly say I’m having the best time of my life.  The days are long, but they’re powerful and magical and I cannot say enough wonderful things about my teachers.  Each and every session I am reminded why I chose to train in the east with Indian teachers, my new yoga family.  I can’t wait to share more about this trip, if you have any questions, just ask!

 

 

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Bedtime Stretches To Relieve Lower Back Pain

Want more yoga and exercise? Become a woods warrior, try this lower body workout, then end the day with bedtime stretches that relieve lower back pain. Check out my 200hour yoga teacher training experience and read about the school I attended here.

liveseasoned_sp15_BedtimeBackYoga-19 Ohhhh lower back pain and pressure. How many times have I groaned, moaned and cursed at you?  In fact, here I sit, back throbbing and hips aching, worrying about my future.  I have to admit, I don’t stretch or do yoga each day like I should and it’s evident in the way I feel when I lay down at night.  While these eight bedtime stretches are not a cure for lower back pain they help sooo much! Instant relief.  My tightly, tangled ball of rubberbandy back muscles relax into alignment and allow some comfort before bed. If you’re in the same back pressure out your ass predicament, go stretch out!

Continue reading

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

How To: Save for Travel

liveseasoned_winter14_howtosavefortravel-5

Hey travel bugs!  I’m extremely amped to write this post full of tips about saving money for travel because I’m in the midst of a big savings year right meow!  I have a huge trip planned for the end of 2015 and if I want to make it a reality I need to keep it at the forefront of my consciousness.  For me, a big part of successful savings starts with being mindful of it.  If I’m always thinking about the trip and being frugal, I’m much more likely to skip the little extras: the cup of coffee, the random tank top, the $4 bar of delicious dark chocolate, you get the picture.  This post applies to any big ticket item you want to save for not just a trip.  Maybe you want to splurge and get a fancy new DSLR (and by you I mean me), or pay off a huge chunk of student loans, or put aside money for your snazzy wedding, whatever you’re planning, you can save for it and these tips can help you!

LIVESEASONED_SAVINGFORTRAVEL

Step One: Estimate Your Travel Costs

First things first.  How much do you actually need to save? I get questions like this all the time: ‘how much should I save for a cross country road trip’ or ‘how much do you think I need for two weeks in Brazil’ and at first these questions seem unanswerable, but in truth, they’re pretty easy requests and they can be worked out with a pen, paper and a tiny bit of research. The short of it: what I need for a cross country road trip is probably not what you need for a cross country road trip. Why? Because we all have different lifestyles and ways of traveling.  That’s why it’s important for YOU to estimate your own travel costs and don’t worry, it’s not as intimidating as it sounds.

Continue reading

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

SUP – Stand Up Paddle-boarding

Have you tried stand up paddle-boarding (SUP) or know anyone who owns a board?  I’ve noticed more and more stand up paddleboards popping up in magazines over the past few years, usually mentioned by a fit celebrity or cited as a workout.  I had no idea there was a magazine specifically dedicated to SUP and it wasn’t until last year that I saw one with my own two eyes.  I was eating dinner at a restaurant in Seattle and out on the calm water a couple was watching the sunset from their SUP.  I was so envious!  If you’ve ever watched the sunset over the water you know what an amazing view it is, now imagine being on the water while it’s setting. Breathtaking.  Apparently I’m not the only newbie to SUP.  According to the 2013 Outdoor Participation Report, “Stand up paddling had the highest number of new participants in the past year. More than half of stand up paddling participants tried the sport for the first time in 2012.”

Even though I had a lot of interest in SUP, I didn’t get the chance to try it for myself until this past weekend.  My local outdoors store, Townsend Bertram & CO, hosted an event along with BIC (yep, the same people that run the pen game have a big hand in water board sporting equipment) to introduce SUP to those of us who have never tried it.  There’s a large number of lakes and rivers in NC, not to mention the Outer Banks area, so what better place to entice people to get into SUP? At least that’s what I thought when I signed up for the free event.

liveseasoned_spring2014_SUP-5-3

K and I headed to the lake on full hoagie-bellies (that’s sub-bellies to you [katie here: haha, Calder and I argue about this all of the time, thanks for the data!])  excited to try something new.  Once we checked-in we were assigned a number.  The friendly folks at Townsend Bertram & CO would periodically call out numbers, which was the cue to step on down to the waterside.  First the paddle was adjusted for height.  You raise your arm straight up into the air, but let your wrist hang limp.  The top of the paddle handle should just touch your palm.  Then the instructors picked a board depending on our height, weight and intended use.  There are different boards for racing, yoga, surfing and just plain paddling around.  K and I both tried standard boards the first time out.  He was on a 10’6” while I was on a 10’4”.  I wasn’t that nervous about the whole thing, but I think K thought it was going to be harder than it was.  I only saw one person out of 70 fall the entire day!  You simply wade out into the water, hoist yourself onto the board and then kneel in the center of it.  After you feel comfortable kneeling and paddling you can stand up and off you go.  K liked it so much that he went out a second time on a slim racing board.

Before I tried SUP I was excited about the idea, but thought it was a bit redundant since I already owned a kayak. Once I was on the board, I fell in love! It’s much different from kayaking and maybe it seems selfish, but I want one of these too.  Unlike kayaking, you’re much higher than the surface of the water so you’re able to see farther.  As a photographer, I really like that about SUP. I also like that you can easily see where you’re going.  Instead of just paddling blindly through the water, the more detailed view allows you to anticipate different currents, depths and passages.  I also love that SUP works your core and more of your upper body than the kayak.  I tire very easily in my kayak because I have a relatively weak chest and shoulders, but my core is solid, which made SUP less challenging and more enjoyable for me.  You can also hop off your SUP when waters get rough and choppy as opposed to flipping over in a kayak, which scares a lot of folks.

I love that SUP doubles as a surfboard and for that matter triples as a floating yoga mat!  You know the Seasoned sisters love yoga and if you don’t, we tried to tell you here and here.  At the event on Sunday I also ran into Allison from LYFSUP. In short, LYFSUP is dedicated to building the SUP community around Jordan Lake and in Chapel Hill, NC and beyond, and they are dedicated to protecting water & natural resources, donating a percentage of their profits to the cause.  Allison has an impressive background in surfing and SUP so it’s no wonder she’s committed to bringing it to the area.  LYFSUP offers  SUP yoga classes, which is what I had the chance to see on Sunday at the lake.  Allison and her stepdaughter Haley went out on the water and demonstrated a mini yoga flow for me!  It looked so relaxing and at the same time more challenging and complex than yoga on solid ground.  After watching the ladies practice side plank, chair, down dog and sun salutations out on the lake, I started calculating a budget to see how quickly I could buy a board!  My family has a home in Virginia, just a few yards from the water, so I could already envision switching my daily yoga practice to SUP yoga.  Imagine how tranquil and relaxing it must be to practice while gently floating along *sigh*.  In the meantime I’ll take a couple of Allison’s SUP yoga classes and hopefully by next year a board will be mine.

I do think the boards are a little bit pricey, but that may be because I’m used to buying boats and equipment with more to it.  Since SUP is a newer concept to me, I think I’m having a hard time justifying such an expensive purchase on just a board (even though I know it’s so much more than that!).  Like I said, it really is a SUP, surf board and yoga mat all in one.  The boards I used on Sunday were top-of-the-line, but I did find some for as low as $600 and even $400, but I can’t attest to the quality.  The ones I saw Allison of LYFSUP using were even more impressive and perfect for practicing yoga so I’m excited to get the opportunity to try one out for myself during her class (the board and anchor rental is only $5 extra).  After perusing the internet and seeing so.many.options. I think it would be a good idea to rent several different kinds and really get a feel for the type of board that’s right for you.  In my family, we often split recreational purchases like this, making it extra important to research the boards to find one board that can fit everyone in the family.

liveseasoned_spring2014_SUP-4

If you are new to SUP like myself, you should do a quick google search and see if any sporting good stores, outlets or parks in your area rent out boards.  I was surprised to find out that there are several rental venues in my area and near the Outer Banks too.  It’s a great way to explore, and who doesn’t love a new adventure?

I feel like I’ve become mildly obsessed with SUP in a matter of a few days.  I promise this post isn’t sponsored by anyone (although I wish it was, helllllo free SUP).  I tend to bounce around from one expensive hobby (backpacking to rock climbing and always photography) to the next so I’m really trying to reign myself in on this one.  I can already see myself buying a board during end-of-the-summer clearance sales.  So be it.  All the better to photograph the sunset with, am I right? [katie again : you have me convinced!]

If any of you are in my area, Chapel Hill, NC, let’s take a SUP yoga class together!  I’m doing it either way so why not join me?  Back to daydreaming about SUP in tropical locations for me…

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Become a Woods Warrior

Want more yoga and exercise? Become a woods warrior, try this lower body workout, then end the day with bedtime stretches that relieve lower back pain. Check out my 200hour yoga teacher training experience and read about the school I attended here.

liveseasoned woods warrior

Become a woods warrior.  Nope, not the kind that wields a sword, instead the kind that smiles peacefully and stretches deeply.  Warrior pose is also known as Virabhadrasana (vira=hero, bhadra=gentle, asana=pose).  You can be a warrior anywhere, but I believe the woods to be the calmest and most inspiring space for these stretches.  There’s nothing like holding warrior one while you gaze up at your fingertips and see the tops of tall trees swaying in the wind.  You have the overwhelming sense of feeling grounded yet flexible like those limbs.  Then comes warrior two where you can pause and gaze miles past your fingertips.  The forest gives you ample spaces for exalted (reverse) warrior so you can stretch and lengthen until you’re as limber as the trees that surround you.  I love looking down at my environment in warrior three.  It gives me time to take in the dry leaves and tiny bugs as I breathe, balance, lengthen and stretch with all I’ve got.

live seasoned woods warrior yoga poses-9

After recently completing a month-long yoga challenge, I was a little bored with the warrior poses.  I was eager to move on to harder, more intriguing postures, but I realized that isn’t the yogi way.  It’s important to be present with each pose, no matter how many times you’ve practiced.  The more you appreciate the present, the more space you create for improvement and appreciation.  Of course, the same is true with life.  The more we focus on the task at hand, the more we come to contribute, improve, appreciate and love what we’re doing.  So even if you’ve practiced warrior one, two, and three a thousand times, try them all again and appreciate their presence in your life and your ability to stretch and strengthen your body.

A few tips:

  • Wear stretchy pants or shorts so you can practice your fullest expression of each pose.
  • Pick a relatively flat and non-slip surface.
  • Move into each pose slowly and with intention.  Think about each part of your body in order to achieve the proper alignment.
  • Breathe deeply and evenly through your nose.  If the pose seems tough, focus on your breath.
  • Try each pose for a couple breaths and then go back and hold them longer if you’d like.
  • My form isn’t perfect so don’t just peep at the pics – read through each warrior before practicing.

 

live seasoned woods warrior yoga poses-7live seasoned woods warrior yoga poses-2live seasoned woods warrior yoga poses-1

Warrior One

  • Stand up straight with your feet together, arms down by your sides, and palms facing forward.  Inhale and as you exhale, step your right foot forward about 4 feet.  Reach your arms upwards (perpendicular to the floor) as you rotate your palms to face each other and actively reach through your fingertips towards the sky.  Breathe as you roll your shoulders down and back into their sockets.
  • As you inhale, make sure your heels are aligned and turn your back foot (left) out 45-65 degrees to the left (anywhere from 9 o’clock to 11 o’clock). Exhale and rotate your hips and torso to face forward while grounding into your back leg.  You’ll probably have to pull your left hip forward and your right hip back.  Try to square your pelvis as much as possible, this is difficult (especially if you have tight hips like myself) and won’t happen overnight. I like to bring my arms down for a moment, touch both my hips and direct them towards the front of my invisible mat.
  • Keep your back foot firmly planted and as you exhale, bend your right knee over the right angle so the shin is perpendicular to the floor and your thigh is as close to parallel as possible.  You may have to scoot your front foot forward a little bit if your knee is tracking over the front of your ankle (you never want that to happen). Your back leg should be straight and your heel should be touching the ground.
  • Anchor yourself firmly with both legs, even though your front leg is probably burning a little more, your weight should feel equally grounded.  Inhale as you reach towards the sky, look up at your fingertips and those beautiful trees and reach some more.  There can be a slight bend in your back.  You can also bring your palms together overhead and spread your fingers if you’d like.
  • Relax into warrior one with strength, breathing deeply for thirty seconds to a minute.  To release, straighten the front leg while bringing the back leg forward to meet at the front of your invisible mat.

live seasoned woods warrior yoga poses-6live seasoned woods warrior yoga poses-8live seasoned woods warrior yoga poses-3

Warrior Two

  • Starting from warrior one (with your right foot forward), rotate your left arm back and your front arm forward so they create a straight line (parallel to the ground).  Keep a tall spine and feel strength radiating from your core.  At the same time rotate your hips and your back toes outward.  Your shoulders should be stacked directly over your hips and your left toes should be pointed towards the left side of your invisible mat (perpendicular to your right toes) .  The heel of your front foot should line up with the arch of your back foot.
  • Sink lower into your lunge and exhale while relaxing your shoulders.  Just like in warrior one, the weight should be distributed evenly in your legs, which means the outer edge of your back leg is pressing firmly into the ground.
  • Even though you’re actively reaching forward and backwards with your arms, they should be slightly relaxed not rigid.  I like to imagine a string tied to each middle finger, knowing I could sway my abdomen forward and backward if someone came along and pulled either string.
  • When you’re properly aligned, look out over the edges of your front fingertips.  Keep your gaze soft and your face relaxed.  Hold the pose for thirty seconds to a minute all the while breathing deeply. To release, rotate the arms upwards and the back toe and hips forward to return to warrior one and then straighten the front leg while bringing the back leg forward to meet at the front of your invisible mat.

live seasoned woods warrior yoga poses-10live seasoned woods warrior yoga poses-5live seasoned woods warrior yoga poses-4

Exalted or Reverse Warrior

  • Starting in warrior two, simply rotate the front palm towards the sky and slide the back palm gentle down your back thigh.  Inhale the front arm towards the sky, reaching and lengthening the front side of your body while your back hand extends lower on your thigh and eventually calf.  You don’t want to put any weight on your back hand, instead use your abdominal muscles and right hand to lengthen and raise your heart towards the sky.  Gently gaze up at your fingertips while keeping your neck relaxed.
  • Deepen the lunge in your front leg and breathe deeply for up to thirty seconds.  To exit, return to warrior two, warrior one and then straighten the front leg while bringing the back leg forward to meet at the front of your invisible mat.
  • *If you’d like to go into a half bind in reverse warrior, bring your lower hand around your back and place your fingertips in your front hip crease.  Make sure you keep a deep lunge and your upper body uplifted.

live seasoned woods warrior yoga poses-11live seasoned woods warrior yoga poses-12

Warrior Three

  • Starting from warrior one, simply (ok nothing is simple about this pose) tilt your upper body forward about 45 degrees and simultaneously straighten your front leg while you gently push forward and lift your back leg.  The goal is to look like the letter T.  Your hips should be squared towards the ground.  Stretch your arms forward so they’re parallel to the ground while you flex your back foot and push backward.  I like to imagine a wall directly behind me that I’m pushing against with my heal.  You don’t want your shoulders to sink below your hips so engage your core muscles and lengthen your arms while you gaze at the ground.  Hold this for up to thirty seconds, which is a major challenge, and gently release back into warrior one. To release, straighten the front leg while bringing the back leg forward to meet at the front of your invisible mat.

 

Now you’re well versed with warrior and equipped to take your calming strength out into the woods.  I hope you enjoyed a magnified look at these important postures.  I’m sure you’ll find yourself in one, if not all four, of these poses during any vinyasa class.  And remember that everyone’s body looks and works differently even though we’re all made up of the same parts, which means everyone’s warriors will differ slightly.  Embrace yours, whatever it may look like today and leave it in the woods when you’re finished.  It may look different tomorrow, embrace that too!

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

This Isn’t Your Monk’s Meditation

           liveseasoned_spring2014_meditation-1

I’m sure a lot, if not all of you, already meditate in some form or another.  Maybe you clear your mind while you exercise or while doing the dishes or while taking a shower.  When you are alone with your thoughts you’re beginning to meditate.  Over the past couple of years, I have read a few powerful books about mediation and self-discovery and I believe they have had a big impact on my overall happiness and upbeat attitude.  I’ve learned to direct and guide my thoughts in a constructive way instead of arguing with myself.  Self-love is always in season so from time to time we’ll be sharing a little bit about our paths to self-discovery and tips for your own, in a series called Grey Matters.

First let me start off by saying I don’t identify myself as a Buddhist per say and I’m not here to promote any one religion.  I do however think that the Buddhist religion has some really great insights into how to become a better individual and how to pass on that goodness to those around us. Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, founder of San Francisco Zen Center, said it best, “The purpose of studying Buddhism is not to study Buddhism, but to study ourselves.” Buddhism informs us that we should identify the intention behind our actions and whether those actions will have a positive or negative effect on those around us.  If you identify with a particular religion or not, I think the Grey Matters series will be helpful to you as you walk on your path to self-discovery.

In this first installment of Grey Matters I thought it could be helpful to give a little primer on meditation and setting an intention for your day or week.  When you let your mind rest you are beginning to practice meditation.  You don’t have to venture to a secluded spot and sit in the same position for days on end without talking to a soul.  This isn’t your monk’s meditation.  It’s a tool for self-reflection that we can all utilize.  Mediation has tremendous power in that it helps us identify the motives of our actions and reactions.  It helps us to expand our minds and hearts and allows both to more easily accommodate the obstacles we all face from day to day. If the word meditation makes your eyes roll then think of it as constructive thinking.  Sometimes life feels like you’re climbing Mt. Everest with no coat when it should feel like you’re strolling along a beautiful beach.  Taking the time to reflect while setting an intention and motivation for your day can help you transform that mountain into a plain.  Meditation is a helpful tool in reducing stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia and many other uncomfortable conditions of the human mind.  At first the goal of meditation is to have an open and clear mind.  You can’t solve all of your problems during the first week of meditation.  It’s a process so start small.

Here are a few tips to practicing meditation:

  • Choose a consistent, comfortable, clean and quiet space in your home.  I put a pillow on the floor in my bedroom; it’s as simple as that.  Some people have a space set aside specifically for thought.  Maybe it involves a comfortable cushion and a couple scented candles in front of a sunny window or maybe you’re not sold on the idea of meditation and you choose to sit at your dining room table with a cup of coffee.  However you choose to begin is fine.
  •  Minimize distractions and focus within.  If you’re sitting on the ground, sit up straight in a comfortable position and rest your hands on your knees or thighs.  If you’re sitting on a chair make sure both feet are touching the ground.  When you breathe in you should feel uplifted and when you exhale you should feel balanced and grounded, it’s easier to feel grounded when you’re making contact with the earth.
  • Close your eyes or soften your gaze and focus on your breath.  You don’t have to alter your breath, it shouldn’t be a distraction to you, but rather an anchor to the present.  We are practicing being present and not letting our thoughts carry us to the past or future. Change is possibly the only constant in our lives; let your flowing breath be a gentle reminder of that.
  • If thoughts pop into your mind simply exhale them away. Continue to focus on the sensation of your breath traveling in and out. Try not to get caught up in thoughts of your to do list or the fight you had with your friend.  Don’t beat yourself up about all these random thoughts either, simply acknowledge that you’re thinking and then exhale the thought and return your focus to the breath.
  • After five minutes feel free to leave the cushion.  It’s important to keep your meditation short and regular.  If you find yourself successfully freeing your mind of thought and meditating every day for five or ten minutes then you’re ready to address various issues through meditation.

After all, meditation breeds mindfulness, which is simply paying attention to what’s going on around you and not getting hooked by strong emotion.  If we’re being mindful we can begin to identify our intentions and begin to work with them.  We’ll save problem solving and addressing emotions for the next Grey Matters installment, but let’s start setting short-term intentions for our days and weeks.

Your intention is a thought or motivation for how you’d like to live your life.  It’s kind of like a New Year’s resolution without all the pressure.  You can shape your intention daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly.  We’ll talk about setting long-term intentions in the next Buddha Brain post, but let’s stick to daily intentions right now.

Tips for setting a daily intention:

  • Think of a positive word, feeling or focus that will guide you through the day or week.  It can be a goal like writing and photographing x number of blog posts, completing a project at work or a gentle reminder like taking a nap when one is needed. It can also be an overarching, nonspecific theme like practice patience or be generous or persevere.  Think about what you’re lacking, what you’d like to work on or what your body and mind really needs and create your intention.
  • Repeat your intention. After meditating for five to ten minutes, repeat your intention, aloud or internally, three times with passion and motivation to carry through with your intent.
  • Take your intention with you. Now it’s time to go out into the world always knowing that you have your own special guidelines by which you’ll live your life.  You can repeat your intention whenever you’re feeling like your day is going off track.  Know that above all else something is guiding you even when you feel lost.

If your intention was to get enough rest than you’ll feel better about working harder when you’re awake and sleeping sounder during naps or at night.  You won’t have to feel guilty if you need nine hours of sleep instead of eight because you’re paying attention to what you really need to live a happy and fulfilling life.  If your intention is to be more patient, it will be helpful to repeat the word patience when a coworker is talking out of turn during a meeting, when your kids are misbehaving or when the line at the grocery store is a mile long.  Setting intentions is another small way to take control over emotion and immediate behavior.  It’s a tool for shaping our actions, reactions and even the way we talk to ourselves.  It’s a reminder that you live by your own rules.  It’s time to stop feeling guilty, upset or uneasy about the choices you make.  It’s time to stop judging yourself so harshly and instead knowing there was a reason for why you did whatever you did.  You intended it to be so and that’s all the reason you need.

I really hope you enjoyed this Grey Matters post and learning a bit about meditation and setting intentions.  I always felt like I had it all together, but once I started to peel away my emotions through meditation I realized I had a lot to learn about myself.  I’m able to communicate my thoughts so much clearer than in the past and I feel like I actually know why I’m experiencing strong emotion instead of just getting wrapped up in it.  I feel free from my own self-doubt and it’s really refreshing.  If you’ve ever felt the effects of guilt, anxiety or doubt I encourage you to try some of the tactics in this post.  I think you’ll feel a bit if not a whole ton.

Now go live lives of purpose!  Whether your purpose is to take a walk in the woods, cook a delicious meal, rekindle a friendship or get a promotion at work.  It is all just as important and integral in living a happy and fulfilled life.

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone