Hey everyone, I’m excited to announce that I’m teaching classes with Dabble now! Starting in August, I’ll be offering Mind Body Mindfulness on Saturday mornings. I hope you will join me for a little qigong and tai chi. Come back Sunday and visit the Pilsen Community Farmers Market for fresh organic fruits and veggies. First class is Aug 3rd! Please use this link to register : http://bit.ly/1bbUksf
When we sit in meditation and attend to the physical sensations or feelings of the body, we can observe not only relatively exterior sensations like those of the skin or superficial muscles, but we can in our stillness become deeply aware of the function of the organs. One of the easiest to begin to get a feel for is the heart. As become quieter and quieter, we can actually feel the heart beating deep within. When we can understand how the heart functions, very clearly, we can become so sensitive in our ability to feel it, that we could detect any troubles long before stronger, painful sensations might send us to a doctor. Meditation is good preventative medicine!
- The Number One Secret for a Happy Life (calmchicago.org)
I know, right? Discipline? You gotta be kidding.
No. I’m not.
Isn’t discipline stressful? (No again!)
Earlier I asked you all, “how many of you feel stressed?” So, we have to imagine the virtual show of hands. Usually, when I ask this question in a room full of people, everyone raises a hand and several people raise two. Okay. This is not a problem.
So, if we can reduce, remove, eliminate stress, imagine how happy all of us could be.
Seem impossible? Not at all.
Whether we are talking meditation or making a living; working out or anything that we want to accomplish, changing behavior from not useful to useful; wanting to stop feeling sad, angry, depressed, whatever – discipline is the number one way we get there.
Discipline is what gets our butt out of bed in the morning to meditate. It can be a challenge in the beginning but very quickly, that discipline of getting up and practicing becomes it’s own reward. How? Because when we do it instead of just talking about it, we FEEL DIFFERENT! We feel better, more calm, focused. The brain in our heads actually changes in all kinds of positive ways. Those neurons up there with habits maybe for laziness, hitting the snooze button, begin to fire together in new patterns. And those that fire together, wire together. The whole beautiful thing is self-reinforcing.
Soon, we can’t imagine hitting the snooze button. Because through discipline, we begin to experience for ourselves, by eliminating all the picking and choosing, “should I get up now? I don’t know….it’s cloudy today. Maybe I’ll stay in bed awhile…” and so on…. that sticking to a routine for doing things which are beneficial does a mind and body good. We don’t have to wonder about it because we can see it/feel it/experience it for ourselves.
So, I challenge you. I implore you. I encourage you… Pick a day within the next 7 days and start. Write it in your calendar or iThingie or device. Decide to be determined about meditating every day at the same time. I like first thing in the morning because it changes the whole day. Write down the time you will practice and for how long. Stick to it as if that moment you picked for paying attention really matters, because as Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “you know, because it really does.”
Try starting with 15 minutes. Just sit and breath. When the mind wanders, notice, maybe label it, “thinking thinking thinking,” and gently return your full awareness to the physical sensations of breathing. Maybe notice the feelings as the air comes and goes in and out of the nose. Maybe feel the belly rise and fall. Whatever. No need to judge anything. Just be. Just breathe.
Then, be disciplined and do it again tomorrow. Do it every day for a month. Tell people who will support you in your pursuit of a peaceful, happy heart and mind. They can encourage you. They might even want to do it with you. How cool is that? (Very!)
Check in here and let me know how it’s going. What do you encounter? What questions do you have?
If you feel like you need a little support, come on in and we can help. It’s nice to sit together in a group. I like knowing that later, when we are all back at home, that intention for practice is out there. That others are trying too.
You can get your happiness, one mindful breath at a time.
Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you might find this useful.
Here’s a great story from NPR, about how tai chi is like a “medication in Motion” for those suffering from heart failure or other heart troubles. Side effects? Increased peace, feeling of well being, greater capacity to breathe, handle stress easily and over all good feeling in the body and mind. Hmmm… a lot different from all those drugs out there which despite their potentially beneficial qualities, come with warnings, like, your head might blow off! And, tai chi and qigong work with your body and mind holistically, integrating the various parts as opposed to a more traditional allopathic approach which in the west tends to slice and dice the human body as if the old song, The leg bone’s connected to the thigh bone…“ wasn’t true. All our different parts are interconnected and the best treatment acknowledges that. So, of course you should see your doctor and get what ever treatment you need. I’m just suggesting what Dr. Andrew Weil and others advocate, the use of a more integrative approach.
So where ever you are, find a good teacher and start to go with the flow.
Photo by Robert F. Bukaty/AP from NPR web page.
I’ve been thinking lately. Dangerous, I know. I’ve also been hitting the gym.
No bootcamp or insanity. Just nearly daily showing up for some aerobic work and some light weights. Fitness walking with my husband, which is a real challenge, because for every one of his steps, I need to take like, three. But we’re learning how to adjust for each other. It’s fun.
Why am I do this? Because it really has been hitting me how much it seems that we tend to treat the body as if it was just a convenient vessel for toting our brains around. But, the body is so much more and sometimes, it can feel like so much less. When we are in even basic shape or fundamentally fit, the body is our gateway to so much enjoyment in life. It just makes doing everything easier and more pleasurable, from getting out of bed in the morning to being with friends and family, even going to work! But when the body is out of shape, unfit, it affects everything we do in the negative. Everything becomes physically harder and more tiring. In this state, our mind can not function well either, because the un-ease of te body pulls the mind down, constantly pestering it with a pantheon of troubles and pains.
Of course, the mind screams at us then, suffering the terrible injustice of physical suffering. And we tend to identify with our physical suffering, don’t we? We become our un-ease or dis-ease. We say things like, “My arthritis, my diabetes, my aching back,” and so on. And that, changes us from merely having some physical discomfort to full-on suffering.
Alas. So what’s a poor body to do?
A couple of things maybe. How about some modest exercise and meditation?
Through mindful attention to the body we can rediscover that the body can be our friend again. We need to proceed, step by step and we need to have a goal. I believe in gentle challenge, reasonable goals that slowly take us towards our destination. While in meditation, we let go of ideas about getting anywhere, because what we need is actually already right here inside us, with getting the body fit (as with other sorts of goals) it helps to know where you want to go.
How you define that is up to you. Maybe you want to climb the stairs without strain and feeling winded. Maybe you want to lose weight. I’d suggest that even if you think you want to lose a lot of weight that you start by breaking your big goal down into smaller, manageable goals so you can see, measure, know your gradual success. It’s not wrong to aim high, but realize that even Olympic athletes get to such levels of achievement through years of steady, determined application of effort of the body and mind.
And where does meditation fit in all this? Very simple, a little meditation helps you let go of stress by giving you a chance to stop thinking all those stressful thoughts, worries and obsessions. It’s also a lot easier to let your mind go quiet after some physical activity. Just sit and breathe. Try to just be aware of the feelings of the body, just as they are. Sensations that will come and go. Try to breathe and observe the sensations without any judgement of like or don’t like. See if you can resist the urge to scratch every itch. Wiggle in place. When I first started to meditate, I felt awfully itchy suddenly. No sudden bug attack, only the mind wanting to distract me from what I was doing.
With this, as with the physical activity, start small. Try one minute. Then two. Go for three if you are up to it. Step by step. Add time as you feel comfortable.
So, be patient. Be determined. Set a schedule for your exercise and meditation plan. Then, go for it. Step by step. Take action and as the saying goes, be the change you want to see in the world.
Let me know how it’s going? What works for you? How do you keep moving toward your goals?
And if you think you need some help, give me a shout. I’m glad to help. You can try a group class if you like or a private or semi-private training for your body and your mind.
Thanks so much for stopping by. If you like, join other savvy web travelers, and subscribe!
We’re doing a bit of a schedule change to adapt to you all.
The Intro Qigong class will start this Thursday evening at 5:30-6:15.
Join us in the Chicago Arts District for 2nd Friday festivities this week.
You can enjoy mini-meditations and qigong sessions every 30 minutes. It’s important to know I think that these practices are super portable. You don’t need special equipment or hours of time to enjoy the benefits. Of course, doing more is going to be even better for you but even 5 minutes of practice two or three times a day can make a big difference in helping you dump some of that nasty stressed out feeling.
Sessions will be at:
Meditation: A simple yet profound practice. Learn to quiet the mind by focusing on the body and breath. When the mind becomes still, the fog of our emotions drops away. We can see reality more clearly and make more informed decisions. We experience life’s ups and downs, with greater balance emotionally, mentally and physically.
18-form Qigong: Coordinate the breath with gentle movements to revitalize body, breath and mind. Often prescribed as part of a program of treatment after illness, trauma, accident or surgery, and as a support for those suffering chronic disorders like diabetes, hyper-tension, asthma, depression. These movements are also ideal preventative medicine. Perform the complete set or pick a few favorites do throughout the day to stay fresh, loose and relaxed.
- 18-Form Qigong for Good Health/18-Formulario de Qigong para la buena salud (lvbm.org)
- May 11th is Stress Relief All Night Long (calmchicago.org)
- Mayo Study Finds External Qigong Relieves Chronic Pain (prweb.com)
Medical studies continue to show what thousands have known through their own experience, qigong is good for you.
- bone density
- cardiopulmonary effects
- physical function
- falls and related risk factors
- quality of life
- patient-reported outcomes
- psychological symptoms
- immune function
found demonstrated consistent, significant results for a number of health benefits in RCTs, evidencing progress toward recognizing the similarity and equivalence of Qigong and Tai Chi.
So, wouldn’t you rather beat back say, loss of bone density with exercise instead of expensive medicines with toxic side effects? I thought so. *(Qigong practice should not replace consultation with your doctor or medical treatment.)
Calm Chicago is participating for the first time ever in the Chicago Art District’s 2nd Friday. We’ll be offering short mini-meditation sessions and qigong from 6-10pm. Our good friend, RoK Teasley will be doing original pastel drawings for you by request.
Meditation can help you focus better and leave you feeling more refreshed than if you took a nap, which can leave you feeling a tad groggy. You can do mini-meditations throughout your work day to help you stay clear of minor and major aggravations. Plus, who can get away with napping at work? You can however take a quick meditation break anytime. Even one minute can help keep you on track and happier.
Qigong not only feels good to do, it’s actually one of the best natural ways to rid your body of the nasty effects of stress. So please join us throughout the night to learn more about how you can help heal your body and mind naturally and easily.