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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Did you know that when we crossed the winter solstice on December 21st, we started our transition back to longer days and more daylight?  The shift is almost imperceptible, unless you focus your awareness on the sun.  This week’s exercise allows us to do just that…
On a day when some sun shines through the clouds, make a date to step outside just before the sun sets.  If you have one minute, simply stand facing the sun’s glow.  If you have more time, take a walk under the halo of light that encircles the sky at dusk.  Notice the colors in the sky, the way the light falls on everything around you, and how just a drop of added daylight before darkness makes you feel at that moment.  
By honoring the light in this way, you’re offering-up an invitation to the sun, to infuse all of us with its power and brilliance!


In the practice of yoga, self-discipline is highly revered, because with self-discipline comes a deep and honest understanding of your Self.  “Tapas,” or “purification through discipline,” is a way to burn through thoughts or habits that are preventing you from living from your heart, in a truly joyful way.  
Step into the fire with today’s exercise and see what you can burn off!  
Plank Hold: Plant the palms of your hands on the floor and extend your legs back.  Tuck your toes under, so that you can push the balls of your feet into the floor and feel your legs get strong to support you in this plank pose.  Make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrists, and that there’s a straight line from your heels, to your hips, to your shoulders.  (Note: to modify the pose, drop your knees to the floor, and try to make a straight line through the body from your knees, to your hips, to your shoulders.)  Imagine a line down the center of your body and hug everything in to that line to make your whole body stronger.  Be still in plank.  Keep the breath flowing as the heat builds within you.  If fiery and negative thoughts come up while you are holding this pose, throw those thoughts into the heat that’s rising up in your body, so that you can burn through them.  Continue to fan the flame that you are feeling with your breath.  Hold for 1 minute, or longer.  The purification happens in the process of disciplining yourself to hold the pose.


This time of year, one can easily be swept-up in the whirlwind of gift giving and receiving.  So, the key to staying on the mindful path might just be to let gratitude instead of greed guide us.  
Take a moment today and think of all of the gifts you’ve asked for or have been quietly eyeing this season.  For each item that comes to mind, think of one thing you currently own and have deep gratitude for.  
Giving and receiving gifts are beautiful ways to celebrate this season, as long as we stay grounded in gratitude and not lured off the path by greed.
—Brought to you by Joie Schmitz & The Joie of Yoga, LLC.

Truth and honesty are widely-accepted morals.  Most of us agree that lying, or presenting false information, or leaving out bits of important information is bad. But, thinking, speaking and acting truthfully can get complicated, for many reasons.  Still, we must always seek to live in truth to find peace.  Today’s mental exercise helps us tap into truth, while maintaining integrity, compassion and harmony with the world around us.
Make a list of your truths: a few beliefs you hold to be real and absolute.  Next to each of those, leave space to consider the following three scenarios:

What I hold true and what I believe in might not align with what you hold true and believe in.  How should we go about maintaining our individual beliefs, respecting one another’s differing opinion and living in harmony?
Do you believe in somethings whole-heartedly, but have a hard time acting in accordance with those thoughts?  Are there gaps in your truths and how can you better align your truths, so that the way you think, speak and act all support your truth?
The world is constantly changing and so are we, as individuals, therefore what is true for us one day might not be true for us the next day.  Are you still holding on to beliefs that aren’t in accordance with your life as it stands today?  How can you “renovate” those outdated truths into ones that make you stronger now?

Being “true to you” is complex, but you know when you are there, because it feels really right.  
—Brought to you by Joie Schmitz & The Joie of Yoga, LLC.

At Thanksgiving, our attention naturally turns toward gratitude.  The holiday lends itself to the practice of acknowledging what we are most grateful for in our lives.  
Feeling and expressing gratitude is something that can be done year-round to inspire a richer, more meaningful life.  When you giving thanks this Thanksgiving, let it be the start of a daily gratitude practice.  Each morning going forward, before you get out of bed, say thanks for anything that comes to mind.  Start each day with the joy and contentment that flows from a grateful heart.


I recently had the privilege to attend a full-day wellness retreat where I was challenged to flex and stretch my mental muscles!  The following is an exercise I picked-up from a lecture: “The Wellness Lifestyle Defined,” by Dr. Paul Bizjak. 
Sit and take a few deep breaths to begin.  When you feel settled, think about your life as it is playing out day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year.  Then, rate your current life status on a scale of 1-10 (one is terrible, ten is amazing).  
If you chose a low number: WHY?  What are the things that need to change in your life to bring that number up?  Note that there are small things you can do right now to start working toward a higher number.
If you choose a high number: WHY?  What are you thankful for?  What makes your world go ‘round?  Meditate on all the good that is in your life, and let it abound.
If you chose a 6 or 7: It’s time to realize your fullest potential.  Don’t strive to maintain space in a life that’s not bad enough to make significant changes and good enough to bring you real bliss.  Challenge yourself: How great can you feel?  What would that feel like?  How do you create that feeling through the choices you make and the actions you take on a daily basis?


It’s up to Us
Breathe out: Frustration | Breathe in: Acceptance
Breathe out: Nervous Energy | Breathe in: Constructive Energy
Breathe out: Anger | Breathe in: Delight
Breathe out: Sadness | Breathe in: Joy
Breathe out: Jealousy | Breathe in: Contentment
Breathe out: Anxiety | Breathe in: Peace
Breathe out: Struggle | Breathe in: Strength
Breathe out: Negativity | Breathe in: Open-mindedness
Breathe out: Confusion | Breathe in: Clarity
Breathe out: Barriers | Breathe in: Inclusivity 
Keep going: insert your own words/feelings… and keep breathing.  You and I are responsible for creating the world we want to live in.


We all have things from the past that consciously or sub-consciously weigh us down. Sometimes we cling to the "good old days," and we long to go back to the way things were. Some of us have drifted apart from, or had a falling out with, an important person in our lives, and not a day goes by that we don't think of him/her. Others of us put old conversations on replay inside our minds, analyzing every detail of what was said and the undertones that stirred up our thoughts and emotions.

All of these scenarios keep us from showing up fully for the present moment -- and that's when we start to miss out on the richness of life.

Today, take a moment to acknowledge something from your past that pulls your mind out of the present. Think through the scenario or journal about it. Let all of your thoughts and emotions on the issue come forward into the light, so that you can see them and better understand them. You may have to do this exercise for a few minutes everyday until you start to gain some mental clarity, but actively working through this stuff is the only way to let it go.


We all have a uniqueness, which we radiate.  It’s like a light that we give off.  When we are feeling good, our light shines brightly.  
We also have an innate ability to reflect the light of others.  Like the moon reflects the sun’s light, we can absorb and re-emit the brilliance, beauty, strength, and love of the people around us.  
Take this moment to think of someone in your life who radiates light — someone who makes you feel brighter just by being around him/her.  Allow the feelings which that person elicits in you to elevate your emotions now.  Channel the light into your heart and envision beaming light rays reflecting back out, in the direction of others.  In your mind’s eye, see how you can be a conduit for glowing goodness. 


This Mindfulness Monday is provided by Guest Writer, Karen Potter, with appreciation of the Mental Health & Recovery Board for all their support and care.

Joys in the Midst of Pain
We all know that life is full of joys and challenges. Sometimes the challenges last for a season, not just a day. It’s those times when challenges start stacking up or weeks go into months or even years, that it is difficult to stay hopeful that better days are ahead especially if those challenges involve physical or emotional pain.  
That is exactly what I felt, as I recently have gone through 3 surgeries and recoveries as well as other painful conditions in my body over a 2 year period.  I wondered, and still wonder, if there is an end to the pain.  Yet, I still dare to hope and believe that better days are ahead.  I had been a person who was so driven to accomplish as much as possible in a day, and now feel like a snail in a marathon.  What I didn’t expect was all I would learn through this time, as life slowed down and there was time to reflect. 
I learned that life and time continue on, whether you are in pain or not.  If you wait for everything to be perfect and for all the pain to be gone in order to enjoy life, you will miss out on the joys that are hidden in each day in the midst of pain.  I learned patience, endurance, perseverance, humility in asking for a lot of help, and to listen to my body for ques on what it needs.  
I also learned the importance of being grateful for all the blessings in my life and that are all around me.  I have reached out to others for support and to offer support, as I realize how much we need each other in this world. I can hear the birds, see the trees swaying like they are waving to me, and appreciate the sweetness of fruit on my tongue and the pleasure it brings.  I notice people’s facial expressions more and wonder what life is like for them.  
I encourage you to slow down the pace and notice the beauty around you…in nature, in wholesome foods, in music, in smiles, and in the acts of kindness received and given.