Meditation readings

As part of my Meditation Teacher Training with davidji, I have been turned on to many amazing books on the topic. As I read through these materials, I’d like to share some things with you.

For someone who is just starting to meditate, or wondering what this whole meditation “thing” is about, a Must Read book is Secrets of Meditation by davidji. With information grouped into three Parts, this book is an amazing guide to all things Meditation. It dispels many myths about what meditation “should be”, and explains many different types of meditation practices so that the reader is sure to find one that resonated with him/her. It also brings to light the many physiological and psychological benefits that meditation can bring.

A consistent meditation practice is essential in today’s crazy busy world. We have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts PER DAY. Who doesn’t need a break from that constant bombardment? This unending thought process is incredibly stressful, and your body (whether you realize it or not) is programmed to respond to that sense of stress as if you are actually in danger of being physically attacked. Beyond your control, your body speeds up your breathing, pumps up your blood pressure and increases your heart rate so that you are as alert as possible. There are many other programmed physiological responses, but the most amazing to me is this – your blood platelets actually “plump up”, so that if you get hurt in a physical attack, your blood will clot more efficiently. You are actually clotting even if you don’t sustain a physical injury. And remember your body is reacting to the perceived “stress” – it doesn’t differentiate between mental/emotional stress and a physical attack.

Now think about that – if you are in a high stress job (and whose job ISN’T high stress in some respect), your blood is thick and unconsciously clotting in preparation for an “attack” all the time! Is it any wonder people in high stress situations have heart issues, heart attacks?

That’s just what happens physically due to continued experience of high levels of stress. With a consistent meditation practice, you can take a break from those thousands of thoughts; find a sense of peace between them. You’ll then be able to prioritize better; make better decisions; respond instead of react.

These are just samples of what you will learn. I highly encourage you to read Secrets of Meditation by davidji, and/or checkout his website at www.davidji.com.

And of course feel free to contact me through my contact page with any questions you may have.

Be well. Namaste.

Continual growth

It’s been a while since I posted anything, and a lot has happened. I have some new clients with new challenges that I’m helping with, and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life went very well.

The biggest area of growth for me right now is meditation. Through the 300 hour yoga teacher training, I was introduced to davidji during a weekend immersion. Wow! It’s amazing what meditation can do. It has been scientifically proven that if you meditate daily, even for just a few minutes, the actual gray matter of your brain increases by 5 percent in the area governing cognitive activities. And the actual gray matter will decrease by 5 percent in the area of the brain that controls fear responses.

Given this information and the actual experience of meditation with davidji, I realized how helpful this practice can be to the individuals I work with. So I’m taking a Meditation Training course with davidji which will last 16 week culminating in a week long immersion in California in October. I’m looking forward to learning how to transmit this knowledge effectively to others.

My takeaway from these experiences I’m having through my yoga and meditation teacher trainings is to keep your ears, eyes and heart open. There is so much in the world to experience, one experience being joy. Joy is always available when you look with an open heart, and meditation can help you achieve this. Be awake to new opportunities to grow and thrive.

If you have any questions or would like any references regarding meditation, please contact me through my contact page on this website.

Namaste.

Further community outreach

As I mentioned previously, as part of my 300 hour teacher training, we are working through a book called The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. While working through, I identified what are called my “core desires” and then evaluated what I wanted/needed to do to fulfill those desires. One of my words was “engaged.” I want to be more engaged with other people. It’s so easy to get into your usual routine and not interact with new individuals; step outside your comfort zone.

In order to pursue this core desire, I decided to reach out to the American Cancer Society (ACS) here in Rochester (one of the recipient of the Lotus Blossom year-end giving). As a result of that conversation, Lotus Blossom Yoga is now a Presenting Sponsor at the ACS Relay For Life event this summer, as well as a Gold Sponsor for their dinner gala this fall. Additionally, and best of all, I’m going to be teaching yoga to caregivers at Hope Lodge here in Rochester (a free place to stay for individuals and their caregivers when coming to Rochester for cancer treatment). Often, the cancer patient is in treatment or resting during visits, leaving the caregiver many times sitting and watching and worrying. I have been in those shoes, and it is a very helpless feeling. I’m hoping that a short yoga program will help them take a breath and recharge while their loved ones fight this terrible disease. Caregivers must always take time to care for themselves so that they may care for others (which is an affirmation I say at the end of each of my yoga lessons).

Again, I probably wouldn’t have done this had it not been for my teacher training and The Desire Map. As Baron Baptiste says, “If not now, when? And, if you can, you must.” It’s really that simple if you think about it.

I’m so thankful my journey has brought me here today. I encourage you all to continue to follow your respective paths. There are hidden delights along the way that make the difficult passages worth the fight.

Pursue your desires

An update on my educational endeavors! I have finished my studies for the yoga therapy training and am applying what I have learned when designing personalized yoga practices for individuals. I’ve also received my certification to help individuals who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease. These two programs were SO very helpful in my development as a yoga teacher and therapist.

I am now in 300 hour teacher training to learn even more techniques, including helping individuals involved in 10-step programs as well as trauma victims. It’s amazing how much the information from the other programs is dovetailing into this training, painting a more complete picture to work with when designing practices. It’s really true that you can’t have too much information.

As part of this training, we were given the book The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte to work through. I highly recommend this book to everyone. You answer questions about how you want to feel and then develop your goals around those internal desires. This makes the process of achieving your goals so much more fulfilling, and it’s much more likely you will complete the steps necessary to achieve those goals since they are rooted in your core desires.

Bottom line – always keep pursuing your desires, and never shy away from looking at things from a different perspective. You might be surprised at what you see.

Holiday giving

As you may know, at the end of each year, I give one-half of my total gross income from my yoga studio to charity.  This year, I have been working on a yoga therapy certification, as well as a certification to teach individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.  I’ve learned so much about PD that I am adding the Parkinson’s Foundation to my year-end giving list.  So, thanks to all of my students and friends who have believed in my mission to bring healing to others through yoga techniques, I am donating $1,500 EACH to the  American Cancer Society, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the Parkinson’s Foundation of Greater Rochester.  With my new certifications, I hope to expand my practice and studio in order to be able to contribute more to these organizations next year.

Love and light to all during this holiday season.  May you all find your life path and reach out to others to support you in your journey.

Namaste.

Words matter

In my training for working with people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), I’ve learned a lot about the disease and how yoga can help.  Since there is no known cause or cure for PD, it’s essential for individuals with this disease to find alternative, holistic ways to help them navigate their challenges.

One very interesting thing I learned is that symptoms include individuals feeling like they can’t move their feet; like they are “stuck” to the floor.  The answer to this is – instead of encouraging them to move their foot, simply ask them to lift their knee.  Obviously the foot comes right up.  By simply adjusting the wording, small accomplishments may be achieved, adding up to a big boost in self confidence.

I’ll share more practical suggestions as I come across them.  In the meantime, when assisting individuals with PD, remember that simply stating something in a different way may present a solution to an issue.  Words really do matter.

Light to all as we enter this holiday season.

Always look for training opportunities

In the latest Yoga Therapy Today magazine, a publication put out by the International Association of Yoga Therapists, I came across information regarding a four-month course to become certified to use yoga techniques to help individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.  These techniques which are thousands of years old are being proven effective by modern medical scientific studies for so many different physical, mental and emotional issues.  My class has already started, and I’m already using some of the methods demonstrated with my current students/clients.  No matter your career choice, always look for training opportunities and ways to buttress and expand your knowledge – the best investment you can make is in yourself.

I’m also enrolled in a training program to obtain my 500-hour teaching certificate.  I feel so fortunate to have found where I should be in this life.  Gaining all this additional knowledge will help me help even more individuals life a longer, more connected life.

As a reminder, feel free to contact me through my contact page if you have any questions or would like any additional information about what yoga might do for you.

Be well, and keep striving to move forward in your life – if we all do what we can, our collective efforts can make this world a better place.

Namaste.

Article by Harry Cline on yoga and meditation benefits

I was contacted by Harry Cline, the creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers, about writing an article for this blog. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

Harry’s article below contains some great information.  He and I are definitely on the same page that individuals need to take steps to nurture their physical, mental and emotional health sooner rather than later.  Please enjoy, and be sure to check out Harry’s website:

 

 YOGA AND MEDITATION FOR 50 SOMETHINGS AND OLDER

This ancient exercise, which dates back over 5,000 years isn’t just for younger folks with the flexibility to twist and fold their bodies into 3D origami. Older people benefit just as much—some experts say even more—from practicing yoga.

Yoga

Better flexibility and joint health: Yoga’s gentle, low-impact poses gradually loosen and tone muscles and increase flexibility and range of motion even in bodies made stiff and achy with arthritis or age.

Better stability and balance: As the muscles become stronger and more toned, balance and stability improve — a definite benefit among an elderly population for whom falls are the leading cause of injury.

Better breathing: People who practice Pranayama, a type of breathing that pairs with yoga and increases the metabolic rate of respiratory function and anaerobic capacity, improve their lung and cardiovascular functions.

Less anxiety and stress: Regular yoga practice reduces your body’s sympathetic nervous system and flight-or-fight response and activates the parasympathetic system and relaxation response. This system lowers breathing and heart rates, cortisol levels, decreases blood pressure and increases blood flow to vital organs.

Lower blood pressure: A study on yoga’s effect on oxidative stress in older people with hypertension concluded that this exercise effectively improves antioxidant defenses among elderly patients (age 60 – 80) with high blood pressure.

More mindfulness: Yoga practitioners become more in tune with their bodies, thoughts and emotions. Increased mindfulness helps people to maintain good mental health.

Meditation

Alas, it’s a biological fact that as we age, our mental functions decrease and the likelihood of developing a neurodegenerative disease such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, increases. However, research has shown that meditation can slow mental decline.

People who meditate regularly have better memory and cognitive function because the grey matter of their brains is thicker. Why does that matter? The brain’s thick, outer layer stores the functions of memory, reasoning, attention span and cognition. Meditation keeps it healthier.

Have trouble focusing without your brain hopping from one thought to the next? Meditation helps with that, too, by slowing down your mind and keeping it from over-stimulated multitasking. An ancillary benefit to a slower, focused mind? Better sleep!

Have you laid in bed at night listening to your mind race from topic to topic, rehashing conversations from weeks or months ago, generating lists—and lists of lists? Do you think, “I can’t shut my brain off?” Meditating before bedtime helps to relax and prepare your mind for sleeping. Like Pranayama, or deep breathing, meditation also kicks your parasympathetic nervous system into gear, activating the “relaxation” mode and turning off the fight-or-flight mode.

In addition to reducing anxiety, stress and excitement when meditation triggers your parasympathetic system, you’ll experience improved digestion. Living in a constant state of survival mode slows your metabolism; relaxation enables your body to assimilate and use the nutrients present in the foods you eat—and your body can excrete waste more easily when it’s relaxed.

The number of prescriptions you need often increases as you age. If you’re working through illness or chronic pain, meditation can relieve some of that discomfort. Meditation and mindfulness teach you how to work with instead of against pain.

Older people—and their caregivers—often experience increased anxiety and depression that result from physical health issues, loss, loneliness, sudden life and lifestyle changes. When used in conjunction with or in lieu of antidepressants and with a practitioner’s guidance, mindfulness meditation can reduce those symptoms and give practitioners better control of their mental health.

Meditation and yoga during addiction recovery

 Addiction drives a wedge between your relationship with your physical, mental and spiritual self, but meditation and yoga help to rebuild that connection. Yoga encourages you to become more comfortable in your own skin; its low-impact moves help gradually restore physical fitness. Meditation teaches you how to manage your emotions and more healthfully deal with stress.

Stress and anxiety that result from chronic illness, disability or stressful life events erode your mental and physical health. Practicing yoga and meditation won’t halt aging’s effects, but they’ll help you manage it and increase feelings of health and well-being. If you’re a caregiver, you’ll reap benefits, too, because self-care enables you to care for others who depend on you.

 

Yoga therapy

It’s been a while since I’ve posted because I’ve been involved in finalizing the studio and working on coursework for a certification as a yoga therapist.  This certification will allow me to work with individuals seeking relief from pain of many different kinds, including physical and emotional pain.  The sections of study include anatomy, working with the breath, movement of energy in the body, and meditation techniques.  I’m loving the new knowledge.  It’s been a while since I’ve had to turn in homework, so that was an adjustment; but it was one I have settled into.

I feel very comfortable that this is where my life path has led me.  Even the course suggestions on how to set up a studio and work with individuals fits what I’ve already set up.  So intuitively, I know I’m right where I’m supposed to be.  I know many people don’t have this blessing, so I’m definitely not taking it for granted.

More updates as the coursework continues.  Feel free to use my contact form if you have any questions.

Namaste.  Om Shanti, Om Peace.

Merry Christmas

Hello to all –

As many of you know, I started my yoga studio to work with seniors and cancer survivors. You may also know that my plan has been to take half of my gross yoga earnings at year’s end and divide that amount between the American Cancer Society and the Alzheimer’s Association. Thanks to the support of my clients, this year I am able to donate $1,000 to each organization. My studio was only open half of the year, so hopefully next year, the amount the studio can donate will at least double.

A big THANK YOU to everyone’s support including Heather Heights, Brookdale Fairport, Margaret, Sharon and John, Vicki, Jeff and Maria, and Susan. It’s been a great trip, and we’re not done yet.  Have a joyous, peaceful and safe holiday season.

Namaste.