The yoga scene in America is shifting. Everyday Yogis are looking for a lot more than tight abs and nice bottom from the practice. Yogis are looking for more peace and ease in their lives and they are turning to meditation - many to mindfulness meditation - to unearth the peaceful treasures within. But if you've tried to cultivate a daily practice you are seeing just how difficult getting to the cushion each day can be. After all, if you are like me, the arisings of the mind and body ain't always pretty.
Believe me, I know it's difficult to meditate every day. I've been at this for 15+ years and been in countless long-term meditation retreats, attended thousands of teachings and have done the hard work on the cushion. I know that life can be very full and that you have many responsibilities. I have compassion for the pressures you probably put on yourself to show up for your families/friends and yourselves. I have empathy for your anxiety, depression, shame/guilt and anger. I know how it feels to be too busy to slow down. I know how it feels to get hooked by the appearances of this life. And, I bet you ask yourself, even after your have worked so hard to achieve a good life, 'Am I being a good mom/dad/husband/wife/worker/friend?' 'Am I good enough?' 'Maybe if I work/push/try just a little harder I'll finally feel good about where I'm at in life'…
See, we all have the appearances showing up in our lives. Work, school, relationship, parenting… the list of roles and responsibilities goes on and on. We may not have much control over what happens in life today… the car breaks down, the dog gets sick, your child gets upset… But, what you DO have control over is how you relate to the arisings in your life. You actually have a choice on how to respond to your life. Actually, without a mindfulness practice you probably don't have much of a choice. You'll find yourself reacting habitually, emotionally and most of the time unskillfully to the arisings in your life. This unmindful life to put it bluntly, stinks. But, great news here yogis, you don't need to react unmindfully any longer. This is what your mindfulness meditation practice for. Your practice gives you some space to slow down and gives you the CHOICE to respond mindfully, calmly and peacefully to your life.
Someone asked me recently if meditation gets easier over the years. I wish I could say it does. For me at least it's as difficult today to let a thought, emotion, physical sensation go as it was when I first sat on the cushion 15 years ago. But what does get easier is your relationship to your life. You don't need to get pushed and pulled by the arisings in your life when you have a practice. With a practice you are able to have a thought, emotion or physical sensation arise and fall without getting wrapped up in it. You see that you have a choice whether you want to suffer or not and with mindfulness you can choose to let it go and NOT suffer.
The answer to all life's problems with a daily mindfulness practice are now the same… The car breaks down? BREATHE. LET IT GO. RESPOND vs REACT. Kids grades are down? BREATHE. LET IT GO. RESPOND vs REACT.Fight with your spouse? BREATHE. LET IT GO. RESPOND vs REACT. You breathe (and know you are breathing) and then you let the thought, emotion or physical sensation go back to where it came from (we're not saying the situation doesn't exist or should necessarily not be dealt with). You then, from your new found calm, ease and clarity respond vs. react. You choose ease in relationship to the arising vs. letting them take you on yet another roller coaster ride… And, aren't you tired of that ride by now?
Before you reacted. Now you let the thought, physical sensation, emotion do what it does naturally… arise and fall. You no longer get hooked. You no longer get taken for a ride. You are the calm in the center of the storm… and what you'll find, thanks to a daily consistent practice, is that the storm calms down all on its own.
So, after all these years of meditating I wouldn't say it's gotten easier to practice every day but that my RELATIONSHIP to life has gotten easier. And once that relationship is easier than you see that already is simple, beautiful and easy all on its own.
So, don't let meditation become another thing you need to fit into your schedule. Don't let it become another thing to be hard on yourself about not doing. Instead see it as your medicine. See it like brushing your teeth. It's not optional. If you want to be happy and not to suffer (and you want to bring Joy vs. suffering to others lives) then your daily meditation practice is just SOMETHING THAT YOU DO, no matter what.
Join us at an AWAKE Mindful Living Retreat to get the support you need to stabilize a daily practice.
May these words, which are only possible due to the kindness of my teachers be of assistance to beings and may all beings be happy, peaceful and at ease!
By Erik Vienneau
Can we be OK as things in our life fall apart? On the other side of 40 I’ve been forced to feel into this question more often lately and I’m sure you have as well. Whether you are younger or older we all need to deal with external people, places and things falling apart. The question is can we see this as part of our spiritual practice or will we fall apart internally when the inevitable changes in life happen on their own?
Lately things have been intentionally and unintentionally falling apart in my external life. I've parted ways with my Guru of 20+ years, left my successful yoga business, my other income-producing business is slowing down and multiple people that I’m close to have died or moved on.
What external people, places and things in your life do you depend on to maintain a strong sense of self (note the small “s” in self a.k.a. “ego”)? Perhaps it’s your job, a certain level of income, the size of your home, the quality of your car, your partner, your parents, your friends, or your identity as a spiritual person/yogi/mom or dad. The more life experience you have you will see that eventually every one of these things will change or fall apart completely.
"What is your ego identity? If it was threatened tomorrow could you be OK?"
This falling apart has shaken me to my core and I am sure you have felt the same way when big changes happen externally in your life. This phenomenon forces us to see how much we depend on external people, places and things for our sense of self/wholeness. My identity, Buddhist student who provides well for his family and is central to the yoga community is toast as my Guru left, my income has gotten shaky and I’ve left the comfort of my yoga business. What is your ego identity? If it was threatened tomorrow could you be OK?
It's interesting – albeit it intense and shocking - to have these external things fall apart as it forces a choice on us. Will we fall apart internally as external people, places and things do or can we have faith in our true Self (note the capital “S”), our practice and fall back into the embrace of our eternal, peaceful, always-OK presence?
When things fall apart the self is often scared because it has less to cling to and build an identity out of. Can we use our practice to learn to feel into how OK we are deep inside the part that is watching this whole adventure unfold? If you can be OK with the open space and groundlessness you will find that your True Self – the part of you that seems to be watching this whole show – is where you can find the peace and security you have been searching for “out-there.”
It's amazing to see that mostly, I feel OK and at peace now more than ever as things fall apart thanks to a hard-won, ongoing meditation practice. I hope that these growth challenges we all experience will help us come closer to wholeness - exclusive of external ego inputs.
I know we can all realize our true nature and stabilize this realization of true peace so that we may be present for this beautiful life so that we can then help others transform their minds as we transform our own. May there be peace, ease Joy and happiness for all beings and may we support each other in this awakening to service. After all, peaceful minds = a peaceful planet.
Mindfulness Meditation has proven benefits and many want to cultivate a daily practice. But, to stay committed to the practice can be challenging if you don't know why you are sitting on a deeper level. It's helpful to know WHY you are practicing. View this video to learn about going for refuge (protection) to your highest self, the wisdom teachings and conscious community to go for the real goal of meditation - the end of confusion and the unveiling of your perfect, limitless and peaceful nature.
This past Sunday the AWAKE Community hosted its first one day mindful living retreat. Many attendees loved the talk and guided practice with Tamme Buckner. Check out this talk with Lisa, the founder of the Neurosculpting® Institute in Denver, CO.
Lisa Wimberger is the founder of the Neurosculpting® Institute. She holds a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Stonybrook, NY and a Foundations Certification in NeuroLeadership. Her work draws upon her background in medical neuroscience. She is the author of NEW BELIEFS, NEW BRAIN: Free Yourself from Stress and Fear, and NEUROSCULPTING: A Whole-Brain Approach to Heal Trauma, Rewrite Limiting Beliefs, and Find Wholeness. As the Founder of the Neurosculpting® modality Lisa runs a private meditation practice in Colorado teaching clients who suffer from stress disorders, and she is a faculty member of Kripalu Yoga and Meditation Center, and the Law Enforcement Survival Institute.
How this video will help you AWAKEN...
Join Lisa Wimberger on this interview to learn how to manifest more peace, joy, intention and flow into your life using the tools of Neurosculpting. In this episode you'll learn:
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“Come in,” she said, “I’ll give you shelter from the storm”