Relax, focusing on sinking and spiraling. Observe your body in motion and at rest. How does it expand – contract?
Hope this can help your practice.
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.
It can be very helpful to know the names of each posture. One reason is that it make it easier to ask your teacher questions about the posture. For example, you can ask your teacher about, “White Crane Spreads It’s Wings,” instead of hoping that your teacher will know which posture you mean when you move your arms about in some not clearly definable way.
Another benefit, is that it helps you remember the forms, becoming like a sort of muscle memory nemonic. Knowing the name, moving the body, remembering and feeling your way become one integrated process.
So, above is my list. Please know that I have played some with the names. Since they arte translated by others from Chinese, I have tried to make them simple, memorable and sensible. They are only my take on it. You may have different and even better ideas. Love to hear them.
I hope you can enjoy learning these postures somewhere. If you are in Chicago, maybe come give Calm Chicago a visit. We are the only qigong, tai chi center on the near south side; convenient for South Loop, UIC, Chinatown and Pilsen residents. We have an 8-week Intro Class starting the first Thursday in March. Hope you can join us.
Till next time, practice well. Enjoy the journey.
body and mind, breath, Buddhism, Chan, Compassion, dharma, enlightenment, happiness, job, karma, loving kindness, meditation, meditation center, Metta, mind and body, mindfulness, multi-tasking, multitasking, Peace, practice, qigong, retreat, sitting meditation, stress-management, stress-reduction, taiji, wisdom, work, world tai chi day, world tai chi day calm chicago, world tai chi day chicago
body, body and mind, breath, Buddhism, Chan, Chicago, Compassion, dharma, enlightenment, happiness, karma, loving kindness, meditation, meditation center, Metta, mind and body, mindfulness, practice, retreat, sitting meditation, stress-management, stress-reduction, wisdom
This article appeared online back in March and my bad for not finding it sooner. One thing about meditation, is it doesn’t make me feel much like surfing the web a lot. But it’s important to see what people are up to in your own field… SO…
1. Hooray to all the well-known who are bringing attention to wonderful things like meditation practice.
2. On the other hand, Danger Will Robinson! Caution anyhow. Sometimes, those good intentions lead to a over-reduction of practices to simplicity in-extremis.
Of course, if we make stress-reduction practices seem too difficult no one will want to do them. Still, it behooves us to describe things with a bit depth and offer additional direction that will truly help guide those seeking more than the quick fix-of-the-week and then onto something else.
I’m just saying. Here is the article as I found it online. The link above will take you directly Oprah’s website which is full of info on every subject under the sun.
Find a quiet, comfortable spot where you won’t be interrupted. Sit in your favorite chair, on a porch swing, on a rock by a river. Lie back in a warm bath, if you’d like, or on a blanket on the grass. If your eyes are open, focus softly on whatever is a few feet in front of you, your gaze, if you’re sitting, slightly down. The idea is to just be still for a few minutes. Be with yourself.
Try to concentrate on your breath—breathing in and breathing out (nothing special, don’t change the way you breathe). You might even want to say those words to yourself at first: “Breathing in, breathing out.” After a while, let the words go. When you find your mind wandering, notice the thoughts—don’t judge them—and let them go. Do this by coming back to your breath.
That’s meditation—simply being there with yourself for a few minutes every day, getting to know your own mind.
Under the article, there’s a place for readers to respond. Awesome, right?
Here is what one reader said, that prompted me to write this blog entry, that you are now reading:
Can it be that simple? I am secretly depressed and have been for years, can I really help myself be meditating in this way for a few minutes a day? I’ve tried it before. Perhaps I didn’t try for long enough…
I decided, uncharacteristically to write back. I just felt that this reader was sounding like they were out there, feeling kinda bad, because like, “I tried it and if it’s that simple how come I don’t feel better yet,” or something like that. I don’t want to put words into the mouth (or pen) of reader Harris 497.
Harris497, The answer to your question, “can it be that simple?” is both yes and no. As a meditation teacher, I’d say that yes, in the beginning, when you first have the seed of an idea to try sitting meditation, it is that easy. Sit down, focus on the breath and when thoughts come along, don’t hold on to them, don’t judge any aspect of your experience and let everything go. Just sit. Just breath. And just be aware that you are sitting there breathing.
On the other hand, as a set of instructions for really developing a daily meditation practice that can seriously help you reduce your suffering, it won’t get you very far.
I don’t know where you live so I can’t make any direct recommendations but in general I suggest this: find a good meditation teacher where ever you do live. If you’re in the Chicago area I could make suggestions. A good guide is an important part of having long term success for establishing real peace of mind.
There are lots of teachers out there. Find one. Some wonderful and some, not so much. Be careful. Choose mindfully and don’t get taken in by any hype. Make a selection that feels right to you.
If you’d like to discuss this, I can be reached through my site and I’m happy to offer what I can. http://www.calmchicago.org We’re located in Chicago in Chinatown. I know of teachers, who know other teachers, around the country, so if you are not local, maybe I Can help you make some connections. Wishing you all the best in your quest.
PS. Let’s look at this one line for a sec…
That’s meditation—simply being there with yourself for a few minutes every day, getting to know your own mind.
Especially this last bit, “getting to know your own mind.” Getting to know your own mind means, we learn how the mind works and we do this by long careful practice of observing the tiny, micron slices of experience, of action that are the processes through which or by which the mind operates. And that, while not rocket science, in that anyone can learn to do it, is not something that simply happens with a few minutes of even daily sitting and breathing. It takes determination, patience and guidance and that’s just for starters. It’s an amazing, life changing journey that can be a huge benefit to yourself and to all around you and I wish everyone would do it. It’s changed my life! And I see how it benefits others and makes all of life more peaceful, it does take time and attention. And kindness, compassion to ourselves. One of the great amazing things is, that as we go through the process, the whole world becomes more peaceful. How awesome is that?!
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Tai chi and qigong are ways of getting in close touch with your breath, cultivating a healthy awareness of it.
When we know what’s up with the breath, we have a pretty good idea of how the rest of the body and mind are doing.
When the breath suffers so does the rest of us. But when we gently pay attention to the breath, making it stronger, our bodies and minds become stronger and healthier too.
So, World Tai Chi & Qigong Day? Sounds like a slam dunk to me.
body and mind, breath, Chicago, happiness, loving kindness, meditation, meditation center, mind and body, mindfulness, multi-tasking, multitasking, Peace, practice, qigong, retreat, sitting meditation, stress-management, stress-reduction, tai chi, world tai chi day, world tai chi day calm chicago, world tai chi day chicago, Yang tai chi, Yang Taiji
because it’ll be so much fun to participate in a world-wide celebration involving more than 60 countries and millions of people, all joyfully, peacefully breathing together all at the same time!
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adaptability, body, body and mind, breath, change, flexibility, Imagine, job, meditation, meditation center, Metta, practice, qigong, retreat, sitting meditation, stress-management, stress-reduction, tai chi, taiji, wisdom, Yang tai chi, Yang Taiji, yin and yang
They have a pretty pleasant environment with lots of plants around. We’d love to have more plants, so we can really freshen the air in the center as much as possible without chemicals. Many thanks to Vincent for all the plants you see here. They were a gift in our prior location and in the move had to be re-potted and trimmed up some. Moving plants in -4 degrees weather is not ideal for the delicate house plants but they seem to be bouncing back.
So, if you have some plants you’d like to donate, they’ll be gratefully received. We get a pretty good amount of indirect light from the south.
We’ll be adding a jade plant soon. Lovely for the center because the soft, round green leaves are beautiful and grow only very slowly. This is how we develop our own practices in tai chi (or taiji), qigong and meditation…slowly, breath by breath.
Thanks so much to our teachers, family, friends and students for all your support. I am ever grateful. Together we make the city more peaceful and less stressed. I bow to you all for your efforts and dedication.
The center will be offering lots of wonderful new seminars this year. We hope you’ll join us as much as you can. Please let us know what you’d like to see offered that would really be of benefit to lots of people. We may not respond to every single idea but we’ll gratefully receive them all.
Many thanks, Hillary and Matt
body and mind, breath, Chicago, Compassion, enlightenment, happiness, loving kindness, meditation, meditation center, mind and body, mindfulness, Peace, qigong, sitting meditation, stress-management, stress-reduction, tai chi, taiji, work, world tai chi day, world tai chi day calm chicago, world tai chi day chicago, Yang tai chi, Yang Taiji
Let’s see if I can put it into words.
Every day I get up at 5:30 and do some qigong, tai chi and standing meditation to start the day. What happened was, as I looked at the clock on the wall in the center, I knew there was only 40 minutes to practice. At 6:40 a.m. I HAD to be DONE, because the drive to work can take a long time. The Deadline? Be at the desk no later than 8:30. But as often happens with tai chi and meditation, it feels so good and I want to stay and keep going.
But, if I kept going, I’d be late for work. And that would cause a lot of suffering and trouble for not only for me with the boss, but for colleagues who rely on my presence to get their jobs done.
So, at 6:40 I turned off the light and locked the door to the center. I walked to my car carrying my breath and mind in each step, full and empty, full and empty.
There was the pleasure of a clear mind from practice and the knowledge that the decision to stick to the schedule was a benefit to me and those around me.
Do you have times like that? Where you have something you have to do but would rather do something else? How does that play out for you? Are some times harder than others to be disciplined with? Why is that?