Why you’re not happy (and what to do about it)

Not that long ago, I was getting up at 4:45am to teach 6am yoga classes.

I would throw on my clothes grab my coffee and smoothie, and run out the door and drive for 30 minutes to teach a full class of students while drinking my breakfast.

Then I would have a quick workout, teach another class, race home to scarf down an early lunch and rush to my next class and this was all before 11am (most days I taught until 9pm).

This was how my life was, sprinting from one place to the next and my routine was airtight with no room for mishaps or traffic jams.

My life was really busy, and truthfully, even though I was so busy, I was actually very happy, and here’s why:

My energy was focused on being relaxed and present.

When things are busy, it’s so easy to spin out, feel out of control, and desperately want a vacation to get some space from it all…not that I’m trashing vacations, I love a good beach too!

However, taking conscious moments throughout your day to relax, realign, and focus on the present will make you happier NOW.

And isn’t that what you really need? To be happier every day, instead of having to put it off for when you’re away from your life?

So here’s how you do it:

  • Relax – Relaxation slows our thoughts down, so they are no longer racing around in a cluttered space. A relaxed mind is a spacious mind and that’s what we want.
  • Realign – It’s almost impossible to connect what’s most important to us when our minds our racing because everything feels important and urgent. When there’s space, you can realign yourself with what’s important to you and proceed with focus.
  • Be Present – When you are present in the moment, you are accessing your natural state of happiness. There’s no worries, no doubt, you are safe, and happiness is what’s left. This is why mindfulness is so powerful, because the soul rests in the present moment.

One more thing, what I didn’t share with you about my day, was that I regularly took mini RR&P (Relax, Realign, and Present) breaks throughout my day to refresh.

My early morning commute was quiet and relaxed. At the start of every class I sat with them in mindfulness to reset, and afternoon classes I walked to listening to inspiring mindful podcasts.

Yes, my schedule was craaaazy, and I was really REALLY happy in spite of it.

Now, I am married with a toddler, and my life is a different kind of crazy.

I don’t teach 6am classes anymore, but my day starts at 6am to the sound of my little guy holding onto the crib rail jumping as hard as he can into the mattress, yelling, “MOM! DAD! MOM! DAD!”

This is followed by a full schedule between raising my son, working with clients, running my business, and teaching a few yoga classes.

The tools I used over 10 years ago, I still use today because they work. I am adept at taking “mini vacations” throughout my day where I relax, realign, and get present.

The hardest part of this simple exercise is to remember to do it.

So, to start, look at your current routine, and see where you can add this to something you’re already doing.

I used to add it onto my commutes, the beginning of classes, and after my workouts.

Now, I structure it into my day a different way: meditating before work, mindfulness during mealtimes, and gratitude and prayers before bed.

Because it’s structured into my day, it leaks into other areas: I’m less reactive, being present is becoming my default, I’m more grateful, and of course I’m happier.

Remember, you don’t have to wait for happiness. You can have it right now.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below: What are your favourite tricks to happiness? Do you like beach vacations as much as I do? How do you incorporate mindfulness into your days?

3 Easy steps to stop stress in it’s tracks

All of us seem to have too much to do, with never enough time, while dealing with the challenges and unpredictability of life.

Stress is unavoidable and it’s important to learn tools to manage it so we don’t get rocked every time life kicks us in the pants. 

A few important things you should know about stress can make all the difference in how you deal with it.

First, stress starts in your mind from thoughts.

This might sound obvious, but what we think about affects our bodies. When we think about things that cause us stress it affects our bodies, such as raising blood pressure.

Second, stress and anxiety are future based thoughts.

They are characterized by worrying, planning, and playing out possible scenarios. All of them are based on the future, rather than what’s happening in the moment.

Third, stressful thoughts are invasive.

They tend to run through our minds over, and over, and over again, making us feel overwhelmed, and even cornered by them.

When you start to feel the weight of stress on your body, or the busy cluttered mess of your racing mind, here are 3 easy steps you can take before it spirals out of control:

  • Take a deep breath – I know this isn’t revolutionary, but taking a few deep breaths have a lot of positive benefits.
  • It creates space in your mind so you’re not overwhelmed by invasive thoughts.
  • It stimulates the vagus nerve which calms the nervous system down.
  • It gets your attention out of your head and into your body.
  • It brings you into the present moment.
  • Get out and move – When stress feels overwhelming leave your environment and get your blood moving. Changing locations helps your mind change gears, and exercise moves stress out of your body while increasing feel good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. As they say, “move a muscle, change a feeling.”
  • Meditate – All meditation is good, but Mindfulness Meditation is particularly helpful in lowering stress and anxiety because teaches you how to be with uncomfortable thoughts without buying into them.

I’d love to hear from you now: Which of these tips are you going to try first? What is your go-to tip for stopping stress? Please share in the comments below.

#daretobeyou

Love and Light,

t

The Truth Will Set You Free

I have been thinking a lot about transformation lately.

What it really takes to change our lives and become who we most want to be, and really, who we are meant to be.

This is the best part of ourselves that when it is realized is happy, peaceful, creative, and capable of changing the energy of the world.

Yes, that is possible for all of us, it is our birthright and it begins with becoming honest.

This is the path to spiritual awakening, and is absolutely the catalyst to change.

It often starts in a moment of insight with a voice that says, “enough” and “I can’t live like this anymore” and “I’m done, it’s time to do something different.”

It can be small like a deep knowing, or it can be so loud it fills your brain screaming so its impossible to be ignored.

And it is always about getting honest and real with what’s here.

Too often we try to fix the symptoms of our unhappiness, in hopes that it will create the shift we long for.

So we diet, exercise, try to find a partner, work harder, do more, and over extend ourselves to fix what we feel is inherently wrong with us.

Or worse, we try to numb ourselves with addiction, food, shopping, sex, anything to avoid looking at what is causing the pain.

But that’s just the band aid covering over the symptoms, and not the cure, and what we resist continues to persist.

Those feelings of loneliness, unworthiness, shame, and fear will continue to come back until they are examined.

To change those feeling we need the willingness to look deeper at ourselves and our lives through an honest lens. One that is compassionate, accepting, loving, and truthful.

We cannot change what we do not see. It is by seeing that we can start the process of change.

One of my first moments of truth, and the beginning of my spiritual awakening happened when I was 17.

My dad drank a lot when I was growing up, and if you’ve lived with an alcoholic you know it is a shame filled environment and fertile breeding ground for denial and secrets.

We habitually lied to protect ourselves and each other from what was happening at home and I became so used to lying that eventually I lied about everything.

Even things that were inconsequential like what music or clothes I liked. I lied so much that it felt like I didn’t know what the truth was anymore, or if I did, that it didn’t matter anyways.

I still remember the moment when the truth exploded my brain and changed my life.

I was struggling huge at that time. I had moved out at 17, dropped out of high school, had been on anti-depressants for years, and felt utterly black inside and hopeless.

The shame, lies, and denial were pulling me deeper and deeper into a dark dank well, and I knew in my bones that it was only me that was going to pull me out of the hell I was living in.

It was then that I KNEW my freedom began with becoming honest. Becoming honest about me, my life, and the choices I was making. I HAD to start telling the truth in all ways.

It was awkward at first, because I was so habituated to lying that I would often catch myself in a lie, only to correct myself, saying “I’m not sure why I said that, what I mean is…”

The practice of being honest became my purification, burning away all that had held me down and suffocated me.

It was my liberation and set me free to create myself and everything I wanted in my life.

Even now, over twenty years later (don’t do the math please! Ugh.) I refuse to lie.

If I am late, I won’t blame the traffic (or my dog!) if I didn’t have my shit together in time. I take responsibility for it and apologize. I say no a lot, to avoid disappointing people in commitments I know I can’t fulfill. I don’t take credit for anything that isn’t mine, however minor. I do my very best to be impeccable with my word and say the truth as I see it.

The truth is what sets us free.

Being truthful has become my practice, and that practice now is through Mindfulness Meditation.

It is the practice of being unconditionally present with all that’s here in the moment: the body, breath, emotions, and thoughts that make up our experience.

Sitting still in the moment opens up the doorway to truth.

It lets us get to know ourselves better, it lowers stress, protects our brain from mental illness, boosts immune function (until I had a baby. Now it always seems like I’m sick!), makes us better people, and it even continues to help us when we’re not actually doing it.

 

I truly believe that I am the person I am today because of all the sitting around doing nothing I do, and I can’t recommend it enough!

I’d love to hear from you now: Has truth set you free? What impact has honesty had on your life? Do you get sick all the time too with children? Please feel free to comment below, or in the Soul Sisterhood Facebook group.

Did you like this post? Then please feel free to share it with all your friends on Facebook, Tweet it out loud, and forward it to someone who needs to read this today.

Thank you for being the light that you are, keep shining.

#daretobeyou

Love and Light,

t

What does Randy Travis and negative thoughts have in common?

Yesterday as I was painting the baby’s room, my husband was outside shoveling rock for our backyard.

He had his music playing and I could hear Randy Travis crooning, “I’m gonna love you forever. Forever and ever, amen…”

And then it stuck in my head like an earworm.

It’s a catchy song that just kept replaying over and over and OVER in my head, until it started to get annoying. But by then, I couldn’t get it out.

Earworms are similar to invasive or negative thoughts, and this leads me to a great question I received last week from a Soul Sister.

She asked: “I’m wondering if you would consider writing something about what to do when you have negative thoughts or when you can’t seem to get something off your mind?”

Maybe you’re like me and the first thing you try to do is ignore it? Or try and think about something else? Then I usually get to the mad place where I’m arguing at my thoughts to “shut the F#UK up already!”

There’s a Buddhist saying that states: whatever we resist persists.

So how do you control your thoughts then?

Simple answer: You can’t.

But you can learn to work with thoughts so you don’t have to suffer from them.

Jack Kornfield explains that the mind secretes thoughts like salivary glands secrete saliva. It just happens. They have no shame, and will go anywhere!

The good news about this is that thoughts are aren’t personal. They don’t mean anything, and just because they are there, doesn’t mean they are true. Thoughts are just what the mind is secreting.

Try this:

Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath.

Imagine that you can see your thoughts floating by through your mind’s eye like clouds in the sky.

Notice, that you can notice your thoughts without engaging with them, or actively thinking about them. They are just there floating by like subtitles across a movie screen.

Every once in a while, you will get hijacked by thoughts and start engaging (thinking) with them. When that happens bring your attention back to your breath and notice that you can notice your thoughts once again.

You’ll notice that by viewing your thoughts like this, you create space between you and them. You can watch without getting tangled up in their nonsense.

So, what about the annoying earworm of Randy Travis, or invasive and negative thoughts?

If you begin to meditate regularly (the above exercise is one form of this), you’ll start to notice that your thoughts tend to repeat themselves. In fact, I’ve heard that we have something like 60,000 thoughts running through our minds every day, and 80% of them are reruns from yesterday.

There’s not much new in there.

Our minds tend to repeat the same old tired record over and over again.

When you understand this, it can lessen the suffering of resisting your thoughts which is really what causes the suffering.

Your mind is on a loop no matter what, but some thoughts within that loop seem to cause more suffering than others. Not because some are better or worse, but because of our relationship to them.

We like the thoughts that make us feel good, we don’t like that thoughts that bring us down.

But all thoughts are just what they are: thoughts.

Thoughts aren’t real and have no gravity or power, unless we give it to them by believing them or buying into the story they are telling us.

Now you might say, well that’s all good Tina, but what the heck do I do when I’m spiraling down and can’t seem to get enough space to see them without being sucked into them?

In my course 21 Days to Calm, each day has different bite sized exercises that help shift this kind of thinking.

One of those exercises which is particularly helpful is inspired by the work of Byron Katie:

When you have invasive or negative thoughts that are persistent, ask yourself: Is this actually true?

Most of the time we don’t question our thoughts, we just believe them.

This is another tool to create space between you and your thoughts. Let yourself question the thought or belief and pick it apart. Is it true? Is there a real likelihood of this happening or coming true? Is there any evidence to support this thought? Would other people see this as true? What’s the worst case scenario, and realistically, would this happen?

This exercise is even more powerful if you write it all out and then reading it out loud to yourself.

Thoughts have the most power when they are general and kept silent internally.

For example, say I had a day where I was feeling really bad about myself.

I was feeling ugly, fat, incompetent, and generally not good enough. My mood was low and I couldn’t seem to shake these terrible thoughts.

Here’s the process:

  1. Create space. Notice that I’m noticing. Create space by noticing these are thoughts, not facts and have no bearing on reality.
  2. Question the thoughts. Then, pull out my journal and ask myself: Is this actually true?
  3. Poke holes in the story. If I’m not convinced, I might choose to look at this through a good friend’s point of view: would they agree with my thoughts? Of course not.
  4. Look for evidence. Is there any evidence to support these thoughts, aside from feeling that they are true? Nope again.
  5. Worst case scenario. What’s the worst case scenario? (Most of us never actually go here. We just have this general dread of what could When we don’t name it, it becomes something huge and looming rather than something you can face head on.) So, worst case scenario is: that I will be like this forever and no one will love me and I’m going to be sad and lonely for the rest of my life.
  6. Read it out loud. Umm, crazy town, right?

Yet we’ve all been there.

Thoughts can be very compelling and they don’t fight fair, because they are already inside of us and know our worst fears.

Yet it doesn’t make them true, and you don’t have to give them any more attention than the thoughts that notice the sky is blue, or that your co-worker has cool hair today.

And Randy Travis’ earworm?

Same thing, notice that I’m noticing and let it run through my mind without attachment.

Eventually it gets tired because I’m not giving it energy by fighting it, so it moves on to something else.

I’d love to hear from you now! How do you work with negative or persistent thoughts? What’s the song that always gets stuck in your head? You can share your comments below or in the Soul Sisterhood Facebook group.

Did you like this post? Then please share it with all your friends on Facebook, Tweet it out loud, and forward it to anyone who could use a little light right now.

Thank you for letting me in your inbox and your life my sweet friend.

#daretobeyou

Love and Light,

t

This will only change your life

Hello gorgeous,

If you’ve been to my yoga classes you’ve probably heard me say at some time:

“Yoga will only change your life.”

And it’s true, it absolutely will and there’s one skill you learn in yoga that is particularly potent and it’s:

Surrender.

This morning when I woke up sick, I thought, “Shit, not today! I don’t have my newsletter written because I was planning on doing it this morning, I have x, y, and z to do today and I just don’t have TIME to be sick!”

This is a common voice I hear, and she’s kind of a bitch.

I have a little slave driver in my head that keeps pushing me along with her frenetic voice and often cracks her whip to keep me moving forward.

And then there is this other voice that I have learned to hear over the years. It’s a quiet one, a gentle one, which often shows up as insight and as truth.

This other voice is the one that reminds me that things are the way they are, and it’s time to surrender to it and let go of the fight.

The ego is our sense of self, and it is very fragile so it’s constantly creating itself by comparing itself to others, and DOING to establish itself as solid.

It also is very VERY afraid.

We have very little actual control over our lives. We don’t control our hearts beating, our health, our job security, natural disasters, or even our relationships.

We can do our best to prevent mishaps, or even disaster, but when it comes down to it we have very little control and we are scared shitless.

So what do we do?

Our ego creates the illusion of control by ruminating, planning, and worrying

Ruminating says: if I think about this enough it won’t happen again, or maybe I can figure this out and prevent it in the future. I can’t let it go because then it might happen.

Planning says: if I plan out all the possibilities and figure out the right way to make this happen, and am really prepared, I can prevent bad things from happening.

Worrying says: If I think about all the possible negative outcomes and think about it enough I can stop bad things from happening. As an added bonus, if the bad things happen, I’ll be prepared for it and I would have been right in worrying in the first place.

The ego loooooves to be right and even more so it loves to CONTROL.

In small doses, the above 3 forms of control are healthy.

They become unhealthy when they become conditions that affect your life:  ruminating and past thinking show up as depression, worrying and future paced thinking show up as anxiety.

And here’s something to think about, the vast majority of women I’ve worked with in the past 5 years have some form of anxiety.

Surrender is the anecdote to the challenges of control we all face with our ego mind.

Truly, it is accepting life as it is, warts and all and still choosing to be happy in the midst of it.

How do I practice this in yoga and meditation?

My time on my mat or sitting, is a practice of awareness and here’s how you can do it too:

  • Notice the discomfort and rather than fixing it or fighting it, hold it compassionately and surrender to it by simply allowing it to be there.
  • Approach the sensations with a friendliness and curiosity instead of judgement, as though you are trying to understand them and feel them more deeply.
  • You can use this same approach with the thoughts and your emotions.

This very simple shift in attitude allows life in, exactly as it is, rather than how the ego wants it to be.

This shift is powerful, and has the potential to change your life.

Just imagine how your life could be different if you didn’t have to manage everything or everybody? If you could just BE and accept life as it is?

To me that feels like freedom, and I’m a freedom junkie!

Now I just want to be clear: I’m not saying that we don’t strive to make this world better, or stop going for our dreams.

However, I believe that when we are able to surrender to the way things are, we are able to approach our ideals with wisdom and thoughtful action.

To do the opposite, is to act out of fear, and what good does that do?

So today, I’m surrendering to being sick and trusting my body to get me well and aiding in its recovery by taking the rest it needs.

I’d love to hear from you now! What are your thoughts on surrender? Is this a new or even scary concept to you? What can you surrender to today? Share it in the comments below.

Also, if you haven’t yet joined the Soul Sisterhood Facebook group, you totally should!

Thank you being the light that you are my friend. Share the goodness on Facebook, Tweet it out loud, or just spread it all over social media after forwarding it to all of your friends!

Love and Light,

t

who are you?

Hi Gorgeous,

I’m inspired to write to you today from a quote I had been reading to my classes last week:

 “We live in illusion and the appearance of things. When we understand this, we see that we are nothing. And being nothing, we are everything. That is all.”– Kalu Rinpoche

What illusion, you might ask?

To understand the illusion, first of all we need to describe the ego. This is not the Freudian ego, or the arrogant ego, but ego as an identity or sense of self.

The ego is very fragile, so it tries to become more solid by looking externally to reference itself. A simple example would be to say that “I’m a yoga teacher.” My job has now become a part of my identity.

My ego can create identity with: my name, if I’m a parent (or not), marital status, family members who are dead or alive, where I grew up, my history, or even my age. These are all used in reference to others to give my ego a sense of context.

It can also go further to define me as: the size of my income, my education, my car, my appearance, how I spend my time, my interests, who I spend my time with, and anything else it can use to reference itself from.

You might also notice that all of these things have to do with comparing.

If my ego can compare itself to others, it can differentiate and solidify who it thinks it is.

Such as: I’m Tina Hnatiuk (married name). I am 36 years old. I am a yoga teacher and Soul Coach. I make $X per year. I have 3 pets and no children. I drive a Honda Civic. I am blonde with blue eyes. I meditate. I write regularly. Both of my parents are still alive. I am a vegetarian and gluten free.

Here’s the thing about the above statements:

They have nothing to do with who or what I am.

I, and you, are something much larger, simpler, and more meaningful than any of the above qualities listed above.

“To define is to limit.” – Oscar Wilde

These are just the ‘externals,’ as I like to call them, they are not who I am or who you really are.

All of the definitions above can be taken away from me, so what would be left? Would I still be me?

A big part of the illusion is that we think that if we get better definitions we will be happier, better, more worthy.

But all definitions are limiting by their nature. They can’t describe the full breadth of anything, just a piece of it.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”―Ralph Waldo Emerson

If we continue to chase after externals to create our identity and our worth, the chase won’t ever stop.

The irony is, that we’ve been sitting on the treasure all along.

Try this with me:

Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

Now, allow your thoughts to roll through your mind without engaging with them. You might even imagine that you can see your thoughts moving through your mind almost like subtitles in a movie. They will be there, but you don’t have to do anything about them.

Who’s noticing the thoughts?

What is aware when your thoughts are silent, and there’s no dialogue explain what’s happening, and there is just experience itself?

That is who you really are.

You are smarter, stronger, more beautiful, and bigger than you will ever know. You are source, spirit, soul, God, life force, or whatever words makes sense to you. But ultimately you are an expression of the infinite.

All possibility is within you and you are limitless, because you are potential itself.

This is where your freedom lies and the illusion dissolves. The externals start to lose their value and become meaningless. The chase can finally stop, and living with authenticity begins.

You can live aligned with your purpose, rather than be driven by external definitions.

“And being nothing, we are everything. That is all.”

Here’s a quick little exercise to help you on this road to freedom:

Take some time to sit quietly to reflect on each of the questions before answering. This is a nice thing to do with a cup of tea, or some other yummy beverage when you aren’t rushed.

  1. Who would you be if you didn’t believe that you were your history?
  2. Who would you be if you didn’t believe that you were your job?
  3. You’re income?
  4. Your stuff?
  5. Your marital or parental status, or your parents offspring?
  6. Your age, weight, or appearance?

Review your answers above, and then imagine that you are free of all of your previous definitions and beliefs around them.

  1. What would now be possible for you? Write down as much or as little as you need to describe this new possibility clearly.
  2. What are 2 small actions you can do towards creating this new possibility? Write them down with dates and times of when you are going to do them.
  3. Share your new possibility and your 2 actions in the comments below!

I love hearing from you, so feel free to email me with your thoughts or join me in the comments. If you found this post useful, please forward it to your friends, share it on Facebook, or Tweet it out loud! You never know who might need to read this today.

I love you always, my friend.

Love and Light,

t

the easiest way to manage stress and anxiety

Do you want to know my secret to manage stress and anxiety?

I shared an incredibly effective and useful technique in a few of my classes last week and thought: why would I only keep this good shit in class? Just because you may not be able to come to one of my classes physically, doesn’t mean you should be denied one of the most useful, easy, and powerful tools to help ease up a busy mind. So voila!

This technique can be used this during the day if you’re feeling anxious or stressed, and also at night if your mind won’t turn off and you are having a hard time falling asleep. The best part is, it’s totally portable and you don’t need anything you don’t already have.

It’s your breath.

Of course it’s not just any breath, it’s specifically your exhales. Focusing on exhales calms your nervous system and helps you relax.

So, what do you do?

You start by either sitting or lying down comfortably.

Close your eyes.

Take a few deep breaths to gain contact with your breath. Then let it relax into its natural rhythm.

Let your attention get really interested in your exhales.

Notice the way your exhales feel along the walls of your nostrils. Notice the warmth and humidity. Pay close attention to the rise and especially the fall of your belly. Where does the exhale start: the chest, belly, low abdomen?

Don’t try to avoid noticing the inhales, it’s not possible and it will create more anxiety.

Instead, notice them but don’t pay as close attention to them. Let the inhales happen, so that you can get more into your exhales.

Once you let go into the cadence of your breath and are able to focus on your exhales you may also notice a space between the breaths.

There may be a moment of emptiness and it might be nice to rest there for a moment before taking the next inhale breath. Let it be easy. No need to hold or retain the exhale. Just settling into the space if it’s there, and if it’s not, no worries: you can’t do this wrong.

You will notice thoughts trying to creep in, or totally take over, and that’s normal.

Don’t worry about it. Let your thoughts go with your exhales. The freer you can keep your mind the more relaxed you will be, but thoughts will be there so don’t make them a problem. As you notice them, simply let them go.

If you are doing this during the day even 2 to 5 minutes will make a world of difference for you.

If you are using this to help you fall asleep (I SWEAR by this technique, I do it whenever I have a hard time.) do it until you sleep. It might feel like it’s not working, and you might be impatient because your mind is so busy, and have faith: if you do it long enough you WILL fall asleep. It just might take 10 minutes, which is a small price to pay if you normally can’t sleep for hours!

I’d like to hear what you do to manage stress and anxiety. What are your go-to’s when you start to get wound up or can’t sleep? Please share your comments below.

Did you find this blog post helpful? Then please share it on Facebook, Tweet it out loud, and forward it to all of your fabulous friends!

I look forward to hearing from you soon my friend, have a wonder-filled week!

Love and Light,
t

suck at meditating? read this:

What I hear most often from clients and students, is that they can’t meditate. 

They say that they sucked at it and couldn’t seem to get the hang of it so they gave up. The title of this post is a little misleading, because truly you can’t fail at meditating unless you give up. Then of course you failed but only because you stopped trying.

The biggest misconception new meditators have is that meditation is supposed to be this ultra-relaxed experience in a field somewhere while dressed in white yoga clothes as the sun rises and morning dew fills the air with a rainbow shining down on you. 

Yeah, right.

The reality is of course a far cry from that.

It can be a mix of a busy mind, uncomfortable body, and then berating yourself for not “doing” it right, then leading to frustration and disenchantment.

I personally have had some lovely meditations that are free and feel good, but most of them are really about adjusting my mindset to accept everything that is going “wrong” and be open to the experience anyways.

Here’s 5 tips to help you with your meditation practice:

1) Meditating is not about having a specific experience.
Most people when they start meditating complain that they aren’t good at it. Meaning: they aren’t having what they perceive to be meditative experience like a quiet blissed out mind. I have been meditating for many years and every time is different. Sometimes they have lovely qualities to them, and sometimes they are simply being with my unruly mind for the whole meditation. Meditating is not about “getting somewhere” it’s about “being here.” Whatever that here is.

2) Have the attitude that everything is already okay. 
Start your meditation with the attitude that everything is already okay. The discomfort in your body, your busy mind, the feelings that are anything but Zen-like, it’s all okay. Rather than judging, or fighting what’s showing up, take on the attitude that everything you notice (even the sore hips, and chattering mind) are just objects in your awareness. Nothing good, or bad, just what’s here. This is time for you to sit, and let everything be, and trust that you don’t need to do anything about it. It’s all just what being a human being in this body is like today, and that it’s alright.

3) Do your time and don’t evaluate how you thought it went.
Sit, set your timer, and do the work. When the timer goes, let go of evaluating your meditation. It doesn’t matter. Like any practice, it’s not about getting it right, it’s about actually doing it.

4) Relaxation and releasing anxiety are the by-products of meditation, not the goal during it.
You may not feel relaxed at all during every meditation. On occasion it might feel like you are just putting in time. That’s totally fine. Your aim is to create a relaxed state to hold the experience so it’s not a problem, it’s just what’s here. The by-product of a consistent meditation practice over time is a more relaxed way of being in the world and less anxiety (increased happiness too!). 

5) Consistency is more important than length.
I personally don’t have an hour or more a day to sit in meditation, I do have 20 minutes though. Just like working out, it’s not the 3 hour workout once a month that’s going to change your body, it’s the regular 30 minutes that will give you results. Regular practice is always more important than perfect. You can do this!

I’d like to hear from you now! Do you meditate? What other tips would you recommend to someone just starting out? If you want to meditate, but haven’t gotten a regular practice yet, what are your biggest pitfalls? Share your insights below.

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Love and Light,

t

metta meditation

“I am larger and better than I thought. I did not know I held so much goodness.”
– Walt Whitman

Why do we need to practice metta or loving kindness you may ask? Loving kindness allows us to drop our barriers and see each other for who we truly are: the light behind the eyes and the luminosity of the heart. This may sound hokey, but isn’t that we all want? To see and be deeply seen?

Metta Meditation or loving kindness meditation is a short meditation about 3 to 4 lines that are repeated with the intention to evoke the feelings of loving kindness in our hearts. Metta always starts with ourselves so you repeat these words as well wishing for yourself and your own life, letting the meaning land within your heart. Repeat for 10 to 30 minutes. Here’s an example of one below, but you can choose verses that are meaningful to you. 

May I be happy.
May I be at peaceful. 
May I be safe. 
May I be well. 

Sometimes the practice creates other feelings that are anything but loving kindness, and sometimes it feels mechanical. Be patient and kind with yourself. Let the words land as best as they can and hold yourself with compassion. This meditation can be done anywhere, on the bus, waiting in line, driving your car. The benefits of this practice are huge because it acts like a self psychotherapy by healing our troubled minds, and shifts old habituated negative thought patterns. Pretty great hey? 

So, what do you think? Have you tried Metta before, and what phrases do you like? If you haven’t tried it, are you going to give it a shot? I’d love to here from you! Please post your comments and suggestions below the blog post. I love hearing from you!

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Love and Light,

t