Body Strength Challenge 3 (Plank)

(video 55sec) Here is the third body strength exercise that Personal Trainer, Joey Hunter, challenged me with. She asked me how long can I hold 3 simple exercises & what goes through my mind as I do them?

I decided to see what would happen if I did each exercise a second time while practicing mindfulness. Would it change my experience? Would I be able to hold it longer?

Above is the third exercise, a plank, done ‘normally’ and while voicing my stream if conscious.

Below is me doing it mindfully! (video 1:16min)

Try this yourself! On your hands and the balls of your feet, hold your body as straight as you can and  and see how long you can hold it. Then do it while practicing mindfulness meditation and see if you can hold it longer.

Body Strength Challenge 2 (Wall Squat)

(video 49sec) Here is the second body strength exercise that Personal Trainer, Joey Hunter, gave me. She asked me how long can I hold a few simple exercises & what goes through my mind as I do them?

I decided to see what would happen if I did each exercise a second time while practicing mindfulness. Would it change my experience? Would I be able to hold it longer?

Above is the first exercise, a wall squat, done ‘normally’ and while voicing my stream if conscious.

Below is me doing it mindfully! (video 2:04min)

Try this yourself! Put your back against a wall, thighs parallel to the ground and see how long you can hold it. Then do it while practicing mindfulness meditation and see if you can hold it longer.

Body Strength Challenge 1 (Static Arm Hold)

(video 2:38min) Personal Trainer, Joey Hunter, gave me some body strength challenges: how long can I hold a few simple exercises & what goes through my mind as I do them?

I decided to see what would happen if I did the exercise a second time while practicing mindfulness. Would it change my experience? Would I be able to hold it longer?

Above is the first exercise, a static arm hold, done ‘normally’ and while voicing my stream if conscious.

Below is me doing it mindfully! (video 3:57min)

Try this yourself! Hold a water bottle at arms length & time how long you can hold it. Then do it while practicing mindfulness meditation and see if you can hold it longer.

How to Calm Your Mind, Part 2

(video 12:04min) In Part 1 we covered the idea that when we’re practicing mindfulness, and when we’re being mindful we’re going to keep thinking… And that actually we WANT to think (gasp!).

And now we want to know why we’re told during practice that we should “let go of our thoughts”? If thinking is ok, then why do we need to let go of it?

Great question! On to Part 2!

How to Calm Your Mind, Part 1

(video: 9:44min) “I can’t stop thinking!” is the number 1 complaint I hear when people start practicing mindfulness.

We’re stressed! We want the madness to stop! Doesn’t mindfulness help us calm our minds and let go of thoughts?!

Well yes, and no… Mindfulness helps you change your relationship with your thoughts. It does NOT make them go away. This new relationship is less stressful and more calm.

For most of us, this new relationship takes a bit of explanation to understand. Most instructors know it’s actually more comprehensive for you to experience it than try to explain it to you… which means that before you experience it you’re confused about your goal during practice. You think you’re supposed to stop thinking.

 

So what are you supposed to be doing? And how will it help? Here are two videos to help you unravel this mystery.

Why is it important to practice mindfulness regularly?

(video: 5:31 min) Does mindfulness ever become permanent? Will I ever be mindful all the time with out having to practice it regularly?

Well yes. And no.
Yes in that you can reach a stage where mindfulness is something you’re doing all of the time, as a behavior, a habit or an state of being.

And no in that until it becomes an ingrained habit, you need to keep reinforcing the behavior by practicing it!

Why? Because your brain learns and changes based on your behaviors. What you do today is changing your brain. You’re either creating & maintaining neurological structures for mindfulness today or you’re creating structures for something else.

Thanks to Dr Lara Boyd on TEDxVancouver for making the relationship between our daily behaviors and our brain so clear.

Help! Can’t Concentrate!

(video: 2:49min) Every 3 months or so I drink a cup of coffee (love the bitter + sweet!)… and then remember why I don’t do it often! I get super jittery, my mind goes 3-million miles an hour and I can’t concentrate! Yikes!

Yesterday, I had this experience while working at a coffee shop, and after struggling for a while I stopped and practiced mindfulness for a few minutes.

Whew! That 3-minutes saved my day! After that I could focus again. I was really thankful to have that tool handy.

Next time you can’t concentrate, take 3-minutes to practice, and see if it helps!

10-minute Three Point Body Scan Meditation

MME Album Art(meditation: 10:26 min) This simple, 10-minute body scan can be done sitting or standing. It focuses on three parts of the body: the feet, seat and shoulders.

 

Body scans are great for relaxing the body and mind, and are popular in yoga and relaxation classes and as Vipassana meditations. This one is a bit longer than the other 5-minute ones on this blog. It’s for those of you who are ready for something a bit longer to listen to.

Enjoy relaxing!

Mindfulness Practice: Body Scan

  1. Begin by getting into position, whatever position works best for your body. This position will become your body-mind’s signal that you are starting a practice. I suggest the following:
    1. Sit on a chair (sofa, bed, etc) with your feet flat on the floor. Rest your hands in your lap. Feel your sit bones pressing down. Float the crown of your head up so that it softly lifts your torso into alignment. Let your back body be a bit firm to maintain this posture and your front body be soft and relaxed.
  2. Close your eyes or gaze down at the floor a comfortable distance in front of you.
  3. Bring your attention to your breath. Notice how it feels to breathe.
  4. Gently shift your attention to your feet and feel the sensations in your feet. Keep most of your attention there.
  5. Let thoughts (emotions and other physical sensations) float through the background like passing clouds.
  6. If you find that your attention has become absorbed in your thoughts (emotions or sensations) to the point that you are no longer noticing the sensations in your feet, kindly and gently bring your attention back to your feet.
  7. Next move your attention to your seat. Feel the sensations of your seat bones pressing down and repeat the same steps as with the feet, gently bringing your attention back if you get absorbed in something else.
  8. Finally, move to your shoulders and repeat the process.
  9. End the practice by bringing your attention back to your breath for a few cycles. When you feel ready or when your timer rings  gently open your eyes.

 

To Download:

Click on the Download button below.

If it does not download automatically:

  1. A new window will open with an audio player (like the player above).
  2. Right click on the player and choose “Download File” or “Download Video”
  3. iPhone users will want to first copy the meditation into iTunes (on your computer) and then sync with your iPhone.

Note that you are welcome to download and share this files as many times as you like provided you do so in it’s entirety and it is used for personal or educational use only (no commercial uses).

Download

 

20-minute Simple Breath Meditation

MME Album Art(meditation: 21:11min) This is a 20-minute version of the Simple Breath meditation for those of you who want a longer practice. This practice uses breath, a traditional focus that has stood the test of time for the simplicity and depth. The breath is a portal that allows us to be quiet and sensitive at the same time, deep stillness combined with deep awareness.

Enjoy this beautiful combination, the simplicity and depth of breath.

 

Mindfulness Practice: Simple Breath

    1.  Begin by getting into position, whatever position works best for your body. The best position is one that is comfortable for you. If you use the same position every time, it will become your body-mind’s signal that you are starting a practice.

I suggest the following:

Sit on a chair (sofa, bed, etc) with your feet flat on the floor.

Rest your hands, palms down, on your thighs.  Don’t prop yourself up or pull yourself forward with your hands.

Feel your sit bones pressing down into the chair.

Float the crown of your head up so that it gently lifts your torso. Let your spine gently align, your shoulders relax and your chest open.

Let your back body be gently firm to keep you upright.

Let your front body be soft. Relax your belly, chest and face.

Close your eyes or lower them, softly gazing down at the floor.

 2. Bring your attention to your breath. Notice how it feels to breathe. Keep most of your attention on the feeling of breathing.

3. Your thoughts and feelings will continue, which is a good thing. This means that you are alive and fully functional. Excellent. Recognize them, by simply noticing them and letting them be here with out needing to do anything with them. You don’t need to make them go away or try to control them. Simple notice them with out needing to dive into them or make them go away. Let them  float through in the background like passing clouds.

4. If you find that your attention has become absorbed in your thoughts (emotions or sensations) to the point that you are no longer noticing your breath, know that this is normal and a part of the practice. Once you notice, kindly and gently redirect your attention back to your breath and start a fresh.

5. End the practice when you feel ready or when your timer rings by gently opening your eyes.

 

To Download:

Click on the Download button below.

If it does not download automatically:

  1. A new window will open with an audio player (like the player above).
  2. Right click on the player and choose “Download File” or “Download Video”
  3. iPhone users will want to first copy the meditation into iTunes (on your computer) and then sync with your iPhone.

Note that you are welcome to download and share this files as many times as you like provided you do so in it’s entirety and it is used for personal or educational use only (no commercial uses).

Download

 

Reclining Body Scan (for falling asleep)

MME Album Art(meditation: 21:22 min) You may be familiar with Body Scan meditations from your yoga or relaxation classes. They are an ancient way to relax the body and mind.

There are a variety of ways to do body scans. Usually you start at one end of the body (head or feet), focus on the sensations in that part, and move slowly, part by part, to the other end.

This recording is long and slow enough to help you fall asleep. Soft muscle contractions are suggested throughout to help you release muscle tension and relax your body for rest. You can also listen at low volume, so that you dream peacefully through it once you fall asleep.

Rest well.

Mindfulness Practice: Reclining Body Scan (for falling asleep)

  1. Begin by lying down in a comfortable position.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Bring your attention to your breath. Notice how it feels to breathe.
  4. Gently shift your attention to your feet and feel the sensations in your feet.
  5. Keep most of your attention on your sensations. Let everything else float by in the background. Let thoughts, emotions and other physical sensations float through like passing clouds, knowing that during this practice, you don’t need to do anything with your thoughts or feelings except notice that they are here.
  6. If you find that your attention has become absorbed in your thoughts (emotions or sensations) to the point that you are no longer noticing the sensations in your feet, simply redirect your attention kindly and gently back to your feet and start a fresh. Your thoughts will remain, and you don’t need to do anything with them to make them go away. Each thought will pass on it’s own. You don’t make them come and you don’t need to do anything to make them go. Simply notice that they are here and that is enough.
  7. With your attention on your feet, gently squeeze your feet muscles, softly contracting and releasing, and noticing how your feet feel as you do this. Do this a few times.
  8. Then, let your feet rest and invite your feet to soften like butter and melt down into the cushion.
  9. Next move your attention up to your lower legs and repeat this process of first noticing, then gently squeezing and releasing, resting and melting.
  10. Move slowly up the body, repeating the process with each part.
  11. When you get to your head you can start again with the feet, continuing the cycle until you fall asleep, or you can end the practice at any point by returning to the sensations of breathing for a few cycles of breath and completing the practice there.

 

To Download:

Click on the Download button below.

If it does not download automatically:

  1. A new window will open with an audio player (like the player above).
  2. Right click on the player and choose “Download File” or “Download Video”
  3. iPhone users will want to first copy the meditation into iTunes (on your computer) and then sync with your iPhone.

Note that you are welcome to download and share this files as many times as you like provided you do so in it’s entirety and it is used for personal or educational use only (no commercial uses).

Download