April Ice and Mindful Yoga
Last year I wrote a blog on “The New Reality of April Showers,” inspired after early rains, a typical sign of Spring, had started in February and never stopped in the midwest. This year, it has been the April ice storms and lingering snow flurries that triggered a new reminder for me of the unpredictability of climate change.
As I thought about my own struggles with the intrusion of continued winter weather into my yearnings for sunshine and Spring flowers, I realized that I’d like to focus this blog on a powerful remedy. The combination of yoga and meditation can ease the physical and psychic pain of such stressful surprises from mother nature.
I used daily meditations each morning at home this spring that taught me to accept dark clouds as readily as we welcome sunshine into our lives. Yes, embrace the clouds and snow. It works! This meditation came from my spiritual teacher, Pragito Dove (www.discovermeditation.com). How comforting to learn from her that with a little help from the right mental imagery, we can transform a gloomy Springtime in Macomb County, Michigan from endless depression into a hopeful “this too, will pass.”
I now also spend time each week at Map Keys Yoga in Clinton Township (www.mapkeysyoga), where founder Melissa Pini guides everyone in the class into relaxation through yoga exercises, while also using meditation to help you accept the present moment, not brood on what is missing. Melissa is a truly inspiring Master of both spiritual arts – yoga and meditation — and she helped me find my “super woman” to drive out the stress.
We took deep breaths and repeated “I am calm” and “I am powerful,” as well as other positive phrases – a meditation exercise that helped drive out the inner stress.Then she turned the focus to yoga stretches that took the tension out of my back, neck and joints. We finished by spontaneously laughing together. If you still need convincing that it can be so easy, I highly recommend that you watch Melissa’s youtube interview presented by Boomer Times – the link is below. *
And even though spring is finally coming, remember not to get complacent again — climate change promises to keep giving us more surprises during the year. Use the magic of meditation and yoga together to avoid depression and stay positive!
*On Youtube: Boomer Times Presents: Anita Finley with Melissa Pini https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=743Yevrd0Ik
Staying Calm When the Computer Crashes
A few weeks ago my four year old HP computer, which had never caused me any serious problems, crashed for the second time after Windows 10 had unexpectedly downloaded on me a few weeks earlier. I was already under a lot of stress with illness in my family and prayed this would be a simple fix as I loaded the equipment into my car and took it to the computer store .
Repairs, it turned out were not part of my current technical support plan, but the tech on hand felt it could be a simple fix if it was just a windows 10 glitch. Only problem was that the summer is their busiest time and an estimate of three to four days wait for the results of a diagnostics test was predicted. I didn’t have a backup other than my iphone so I knew I would be using computers at the library if this went on too long. Still, despite my disappointment and what seemed like a mountain of work to be done, I didn’t get angry or argumentative. I just said thanks and was relieved for the optimism on the fix. I also realized this was a good time to again test my latest meditation –opening to love. It is one of the heart meditations from the meditation master Pragito Dove and when life goes suddenly out of control, it helps you to focus on the wisdom of the heart rather than listen to the logical mind, which can drive you to panic. It also helps to laugh and there are laughter meditations to counter stress, too. Continue reading
Cultivating an Age of Mindfulness
Everywhere I turn lately, I’m seeing new evidence that the healing work of meditation is going mainstream and even into the workplace. Meditation once seemed to thrive primarily in America’s alternative culture, particularly on the west coast, but it’s taking on decidedly east coast and even mid-western vibrations as medical celebrities like Dr. Oz are running specials on the healing benefits of meditation. I’ve been teaching laughter meditation to women of all ages, while an increasing number of consultants are teaching mindfulness directly to business audiences. I’m happy to see this trend because we are now constantly bombarded with information through our smartphones, social media and 24/7 cable. We need to learn to regularly disconnect at increasingly younger ages.
Studies are showing that we can really only productively focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking actually reduces our effectiveness. One aspect of meditation, called mindfulness, is being made accessible for children as well as adults, by actress/director Goldie Hawn in her recent book called Ten Mindful Minutes http://abcn.ws/qBAno3
Hawn has become an international children’s advocate and her book has simple rules for changing your life at any age in just 10 minutes, emphasizing short breaks throughout the day. Briefly, she teaches anyone how to take “brain breaks” to reduce the stress that puts your brain into emergency-mode and shuts energy away from the areas tied to learning and memory. Her exercises show how to use a few minutes of focused breathing to again increase the density of certain areas of the brain. Even just listening to music or staring at a wall will help you see things more clearly and reduce the stress.
Goldie also teaches that “kindness is key” – and you can grow your brain’s ability to care. Acts of kindness and empathy stimulate a release of dopamine called the “helper’s high.” This helps to improve memory, ease depression and alleviate pain. As we despair over the ways politicians seem intractably locked in opposing worldviews, perhaps a greater public demand for cooperation and peace will come from this flowering in meditation. In fact, U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio, has already written a book for his colleagues called A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance and Recapture the American Spirit. http://huff.to/LR5eag Stay tuned!
No Time to Exercise? Read This and Laugh!
Whether you are an entrepreneur under deadline or anyone dealing with the stresses of life today, chances are you don’t find enough time for exercise. I’ve experienced and studied the benefits of laughter and teach a class on how to generate its healing effects. Yet until now, I didn’t dream it could also replace that dreaded treadmill – well, sort of, maybe. One of my favorite websites, Care2, has an article worth reading on a hilarious way to deflect that stress and get some needed exercise this coming week.
Just click on the following link and put your endorphins to work!
Minding Your Business in an Unpredictable Economy
“Be here now” has long been an accepted practice for students of yoga and meditation, but the concept is now getting mainstream validation- and many entrepreneurs are already paying attention. A new study out of Harvard catalogued in the Nov. 12 issue of Science (and reported on by John Tierney in the New York Times) stakes out an argument for more Buddhist mind discipline to stave off depression.
According to Tierney (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/16/science/16tier.html?_r=1&ref=science), psychologists at Harvard used an iPhone ap called trackyourhappiness to contact people around the world at random intervals to ask how they were feeling, what they were doing and what they were thinking.
According to the researchers, “we developed a smartphone technology to sample people’s ongoing thoughts, feelings, and actions and found (i) that people are thinking about what is not happening almost as often as they are thinking about what is and (ii) found that doing so typically makes them unhappy.”
In fact, as the researchers elaborated, “…whatever people were doing, whether it was having sex or reading or shopping, they tended to be happier if they focused on the activity instead of thinking about something else.” In fact, whether and where their minds wandered was a better predictor of happiness than what they were doing.
One of the researchers, Matthew Killngsworth, saw evidence for mind-wandering causing unhappiness, but no evidence for unhappiness causing mind-wandering.
These findings seem to be in keeping with religious and philosophical admonitions to “be here now,” notes Tierney. He also quotes William F. Buckley Jr.’s saying that “Industry is the enemy of melancholy.
So what’s the lesson in marketing? One logical conclusion is to stay focused on your goals and don’t get distracted by the stream of bad news. I talk with entrepreneurs daily and many successful ones tell me they avoid the news and naysayers and focus on their own companies. In my own business, I use the Ditmas Park Workspace in my Brooklyn neighborhood when I need to be productive. The offices don’t have either a radio or TV set and that allows me to cut down on distractions and stay focused on my projects. I find that it is easy in such a quiet space to get “in the zone” or fully concentrated on the task at hand, and the result is that I’m very happy and productive!
“Be here now” seems very wise news for survival in today’s business world, indeed.
For E-mail stress, Try Meditating
In our ever-expanding online age, it is so easy to get stressed and make mistakes that can at the least cause us embarrassment and at the worst, cause serious problems.
My friend Pragito Dove is a meditation master, author and trainer who specializes in working with both entrepreneurs and large corporations to reduce stress in the workplace.
She recently sent out this meditation to help those of us overwhelmed with e-mails, texting or social media.
Do you sometimes find that you move too quickly and forget details? As one example, these days so many of us are inundated with emails, and they can be a real source of tension.
The next time you write an email, stop for a moment and take a deep breath before you start. Allow yourself to relax by dropping your shoulders down, feeling your feet on the ground, and settling comfortably into your chair. Now write your email, staying fully present with what you are writing and with the person you are writing to. Write in a relaxed way with full awareness. If you are in a hurry, include the awareness that you are in a hurry. When finished, reread the email, checking the content, spelling and attachments, if there are any. Breathe and pause for a moment before you hit Send.
This technique saves you time and, depending on the circumstances, money.
Communication and relationships are enhanced, and you have an easy way to include mediation in your busy day. You can use this practice with other written communications and for reading emails as well as writing them.
If you are interested in receiving weekly meditation exercises, you can sign up by visiting Pragito Dove’s website at www.pragito.com