Mindful Mondays

Mindful Mondays are brought to you by Joie Schmitz of YOGA\VIVRE. These quick one minute exercises are sure to help you start your week off on a positive note! Check back here each week for a new Monday message!

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What lies just beyond everything you think and know?  What happens when you dare to take one step over the boundary of what’s familiar and comfortable?  

Some psychologists say that your optimal state of being can only be tapped when you stretch yourself just past your perceived limitations. 

Today, do something that scares you — spark up a conversation with a stranger, sign up for and commit to running a marathon, eat a vegetable you’ve never tasted before, speak up if you see someone being disrespectful, wear a crazy outfit that others might think is weird, try a new activity or go on an adventure without a map. Mix things up and see what shakes out.

Every morning when I wake up, I…
On Saturdays, I like to…
… is something I do all of the time.

Our days are composed of rituals, routines, habits and patterns.  These can be important to our wellness: providing motivation, setting a positive tone for the day, and helping to structure our lives in meaningful ways.  They can be a means taking care of ourselves.  And, they form who we are as individuals.  — Will Durant said, “We are what we repeatedly do.”
Take a moment today to think through and even write down the routines and rituals you perform on a daily or weekly basis.  Note: Which ones serve you?  Does any one feel like a burden?  Do you have a routine of personal, self-care?  What do you wish you could do on a regular basis?

Honor and enjoy the constructive routines and patterns in your life; be grateful for the comfort the provide; commit to turning good habits into sacred rituals.


Instead of a one-minute exercise today, I’m asking for two minutes of your time, so that we can explore opposites - 100%, pure, give-it-your-all, power-through, surging physical effort vs. patient, calm, quiet, perfect physical stillness.

Note that we are working in the physical realm today.  Use your body as a tool or instrument or vehicle for this exercise.  
For the first minute, choose any physical activity where you are really effort-ing. During the activity, I’d like for you to feel like you are really going full-steam into whatever you have chosen. It can be jogging in place, running with high knees, doing push-ups, squatting and jumping, skipping as high as you can go, shaking out some big, bold dance moves… or whatever will really get your body going.  As soon as your minute is up, drop right in for minute #2…

For the second minute, sit.  Be still.  Try not to do anything.  Just let your body begin to settle on its own.  The more peacefully and patiently you sit, the more you will feel.  You just gave 100% to moving and shaking and giving your energy.  Can you match that with 100% tranquility and welcoming back your own energy?


I created this exercise for myself, at a time when I felt (mis)-judged by others and noticed the ugly feeling of judgment rising up inside me.  By defining what “I am” and what “I am not,” I renewed some inner strength and self-confidence.  From that place, it is much easier to see others and the world around me in a positive, compassionate, empathetic way - and release the burden of judgment.

Take a sheet of paper and make two columns.  At the top of the left-hand column, write “I AM…” At the top of the right-hand column, write, “I AM NOT…” Fill in the columns with truths about who and what you are vs. what you are not.  If someone has made you feel judged in some way that you don’t like, put it in the I AM NOT column.  If you have lost sight of some of the uniqueness that makes you, YOU, put that in the I AM column.  

These statements will become affirmations.  The affirmations will help to keep you on YOUR PATH.  


Need a quick way to calm your nervous system?  Take a dollop of rich, creamy lotion - and maybe a drop or two of your favorite essential oil - in your hands and massage your palms, all ten of your fingers, all of your knuckles and joints, and your wrists.  Dig your thumbs into the meaty heel of your hand at the base of each thumb.  

Then massage your feet.  Make strong, deep, circulating motions across the soles of your feet, along the inner arch, around the mounds of the toes and out to each toe tip.  Mentally connect to what you are feeling, smelling and experiencing in this mini self-massage.  Can you feel the softness and comfort this simple action brings?


If you’ve recently face the ending of something, or a window of opportunity closed — you may feel a little lost or uninspired.  Here’s a mantra for you:
The ending becomes the beginning.  

Sit for a quiet moment today and recite that mantra to yourself, either silently or aloud.  No need to create any kind of attachment to the words of the meaning.  Just breathe and repeat.  Blank space breeds potential.  


I heard this idea the other day — We must digest our thoughts, feelings and problems in the same way we digest our food.  There is a process involved in gaining nutrients we need to live and thrive and in eliminating the waste.  
Many times, our heads and our hearts don’t work together to streamline the process of digesting our emotions.  When there is an imbalance of power between the head and the heart, the system halts.  
Try sitting today with a thought, feeling or problem that you haven’t fully processed.  Rather than trying to think your way through it, just allow it to come into your heart and rest there.  And then notice how the rest of your body reacts - What’s the feeling in your gut?  How are you holding your hands as you allow this raw feeling to settle inside you?  What is the expression on your face?  From that place of greater awareness, create more space inside of your body for this emotional digestion.  Note that there is nothing to “accomplish,” and there is no clear ending point for this meditation - it will work its way through you once you really open up all of your faculties for processing.


There is really only one mindfulness exercise that you need.  It’s the most effective one, by far.  
It’s the one that YOU DO CONSISTENTLY.
Take a look back over all of the Mindfulness Monday posts and pick something that you can commit to doing every day for a week - or a month - or for the whole of 2018.  Keep it simple, and be realistic, and apply it to your schedule in a way that works for you — and then do it, on repeat, each time with the same awareness as you did the first time you tried it.
The ONLY mindfulness exercise that works, is the one that you make space for in your life.
[Let me know what you chose! — joieaschmitz@yahoo.com]


We often think of the holiday season as a time to come together, a time of excitement and celebration, and a time of giving.  At face-value, that is all very lovely.  This time of year has the potential to be the most wonderful.
A deeper awareness may reveal that this time of year can also be the most difficult — the cold, grey weather and dark skies can dampen our energy; the race to wrap things up by the end of the calendar year leaves us frantic; even holiday festivities like parties and gatherings and gift-giving can feel depleting if they are forced or over-shadowed by pressure. 
The good news is, we can enjoy the holidays, come together in community, create a sense of accomplishment for what we have done this year, and feel totally nourished and supported if we bring our vital essence into everything we do.  
When we approach decisions about what to gift each person on our list from our heart-space, rather than from our heads, we let out some of the pressure.  When we gather at a party and take time to have a real connection and conversation with someone, we eatables ourselves in community with one another. 

Sit comfortably, with a tall spine.  Take a moment to mentally relax your shoulders, your abdomen and your face.  Acknowledge your breath.  
Make a fist with your right hand and rest it at your heart-center.  Wrap your left have overtop of your right fist.  Where you feel the power of your hands at your heart is the seat of your vital essence.  Breathe there.  Give yourself the gift of your own, solitary presence and the space to feel what is in your own heart.  



Sit for a moment with this thought: Why do you do the things you do and think the ways you think?  What purpose are your choices, decisions, actions and thoughts serving in your life?

Next, take a full day and be mindful of the “why,” each time you think or act.  Instead of acting on instinct or autopilot, be conscious of how you go about everyday obligations and acknowledge the purpose of things you do.  Everything has meaning when it is done mindfully.