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!

Feeling up to digging a bit deeper into mindfulness? Don't miss our guided Mindfulness Sessions!

 

Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talents.  I am only passionately curious.”  
Curiosity keeps the world moving forward.  In grand scale, it can set off a chain of exploration, discovery, and invention.  On a personal level, it can lead you down a different path where untapped potential lies in wait for you.  Knowledge, talents, adventures - knowing your truest self - are all yours if you are curious enough to seek them and brave enough to venture into uncharted waters.  
Today, let curiosity lead you in a 1-minute meditation.  What are you curious about in this life, in this world?  What is unknown to you?  Sit and contemplate this question - maybe even write down some of the thoughts that come up.  An inquisitive mind is fertile ground for planting a seed of something new and life-changing.  
 

Find a flat surface where you can comfortably lie down on your back.  Completely relax your entire body and tune in to your breath.  Notice how your can feel the breath in your body when you focus your mind on it.
Start to mentally direct your breath: Imagine you can breathe in through the sole of your right foot.  Keep drawing that breath up the right leg and up the right side of your torso, all the way to the crown of your head.  Let the exhale move from the crown of your head, down the left side of your body, through your left leg and out of the sole of your left foot.  Now, go back the other direction - from left to right.  That’s one cycle.  Continue breathing this way for 2 more cycles.
Next, think of breathing through the palm of your right hand.  Pull the breath up the right arm and directly into your heart.  Exhale from your heart, down the left arm and out of the left palm.  Then, go back the other way - from left to right.  Do a total of three cycles through the arms.
Finally, zipper your legs together and reach your arms overhead.  Stretch your body from your fingers to your toes.  Breathe in through your feet and let the breath rise up through the legs, hips, belly, chest, shoulders, neck, head, arms, and hands.  From the hands, slowly begin to exhale and envision the breath washing down the body, all the way to your feet.  Repeat this two more times.  
Mentally moving your breath around your body helps to open up the flow of energy as well.  You may feel calmer, more balanced, and have more mental clarity when you sit up.  
 

Western culture tends to value people who take action, operate self-sufficiently, and produce results.  But, there are times when we all need help to complete a task or overcome an obstacle.  Sometimes, asking for the help that we need can leave us feeling weak or inadequate.  But, really, it requires courage and confidence to acknowledge what we are lacking and allow others to help us fill in the holes.  
If you have a presentation at work that would benefit from the expertise of your peers, ask them for help!
If you’re a stay-at-home parent whose free time is always filled with chores, ask your family for help!
If you need some motivation to jump-start that project you’ve been thinking about for a while now, ask a mentor for help!
Your turn: If _________ would be better with some support, I can ask ________ for help.
The end result of whatever you are working toward will look and feel fuller, richer and more complete if you combine your courage and confidence with the strength and support of others.  Just ask!
 

Technology has changed the way we live, learn, work, socialize, organize, see the world and connect with others.  It has, in some ways, brought people closer together.
Today, try using technology to reach out to someone you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while.  Send a simple text, email, or message to bridge the distance (of space or time) between the two of you.  Pairing technology with mindfulness can change your day in a meaningful way!
 

In honor of Independence Day, this week’s exercise is an open meditation on FREEDOM.  
Take a comfortable seat, or lay flat on your back.  Relax.  Breathe slowly and deeply as you bring your mind’s attention to the freedoms you enjoy in your own life.  There are not right or wrong thoughts - let them flow!  Just try not to attach labels to them or create storylines around them.  Keep it simple and streamlined.  For example: 

“I experience freedom when I look up at the sky.”
“I feel freedom when I walk outside.”
“I express freedom when I choose how I want to spend my free time.”
“I embody freedom when I open my heart up to a friend.”  

Where does freedom show up in your life?

Lay on your back.  Close your eyes.  Breathe fully and smoothly.
Silently, mentally repeat to yourself:

I am relaxing my toes, I am relaxing my toes, I am relaxing my toes.
I am relaxing my feet, I am relaxing my feet, I am relaxing my feet.
I am relaxing my shins, I am relaxing my shins, I am relaxing my shins.
I am relaxing my knees…

Continue all the way up the body, mentally repeating and mentally relaxing every body part along the way.  There’s no need to move, simply allow your mind to encourage your body to soften.  It’s subtle… be still and feel.
Mentally relax your internal organs as well:

I am relaxing my stomach, spleen, intestines, liver, pancreas.
I am relaxing my lungs.
I am relaxing my heart.
I am relaxing my brain…

Include any other organs or internal systems of the body that come to mind.
Finally, relax your metaphysical self by mentally reciting:

I am relaxing my breath.
I am relaxing my mind.
I am completely relaxed, I am completely relaxed, I am completely relaxed.

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.  
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes,  
because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
-Jellaludin Rumi

Enjoy this poem, then take a moment to sit quietly and reflect on the message.  Then, as you navigate this week, meet each twist, turn and bump in the road as a chance to tap into your strength, sense of humor and gratitude.  
 

 

This little movement can make crazy, chaotic days more calm.  It can give you a sense of support.  And, it can help you access deeper breaths, which are associated with reduced stress and anxiety. — It is essentially a back massage!
 
Lay on the floor and hug your knees into your chest.  Wrap you arms around your legs, so that you curl into a tight ball.  Take a few breaths here and notice how you can feel your breath in your belly and in your back.  Keep breathing deeply as you start to gently roll side to side a few times: right side of your back to left side of your back.  Then rock front to back several times: up to your seat and back down to your shoulder blades.  Even try combining the side-to-side motion with the front-to back-motion and create a circular roll with your back supported by the floor.  Make sure to draw your circle the other direction as well.  Take note of any sore or tight spots and softly rock back-and-forth over them, to soothe them away.
 
After a minute, sit up tall and breathe into your back body.  Feel the freedom you’ve created with a little good old fashioned rock & roll.

This exercise, which comes from Ayurveda (“life-knowledge”), may seem very strange or silly, if you’ve never tried it.  So, before the HOW-TO, here’s the all-important (and maybe surprising reasons) WHY you should make this a daily practice:

It removes build-up on the tongue that can harbor bacteria and cause bad breath
It improves your taste perception, so food becomes more flavorful
It indicates excess in your diet and lifestyle (undigested food and emotions):

Brown/Grey color: Sign of dehydration, or too many raw vegetables and salads
Yellow color: Too much acidic or spicy food
White color: Too much heavy, sweet, thick food, like dairy or meat

It helps you to self-diagnose imbalances in your own body and gives you the guidelines for recalibrating your daily routine or food choices to prevent illness
It can even tell you where, in your body, there is blockage or dis-ease, depending on where the tongue has the most film, or Ama

Knowing all of this helps us understand that tongue scraping is really a mindfulness practice: a way to become more in-tune with your own body and lifestyle.  It provides important information to help you live with more balance.  Why not give it a try?  
(Note that this is a daily practice, because the food we eat, the seasons, our emotions, the environment around us all change constantly.  Watch with wonder at how your tongue scraping can differ on different days!)
HOW-TO:

No need for fancy equipment - use a spoon!  Grab one and head to your bathroom sink.
Splash cold water on your tongue.
Holding the spoon upside down, slide the edge of the spoon down the surface of your tongue from the back to the front.
Take a look at what collected on the underside of the spoon and compare it to the color chart above.
Repeat this 7-14 times.  Rinse the spoon if there is a lot of build-up between scrapings.
If you feel any discomfort, go easy!  No pain or gagging.
Think about what might be leading to the excesses represented in your tongue scraping, and if you so choose, adjust your diet and lifestyle accordingly.
Repeat every morning when you wake up!

This week’s mindfulness exercise comes from Yoga Journal.  
Our culture, our jobs and our lifestyles demand that we be efficient, multi-tasking, schedule-savvy superheroes.  This is the exact opposite of what we are trying to accomplish with a mindfulness practice!  Mindfulness means slowing down, noticing and savoring the beauty and abundance of each moment, focusing intently on one thing at a time, and acting out of knowledge and understanding.
How can we keep pace with society and live with mindfulness?  It is possible!
Yoga Journal suggests: Ask yourself: Am I rushing because I'm under stress or am I under stress because I'm rushing? Is it always necessary to hurry so much? Would you be able to run your life just as effectively at a slower pace?
Often, I find that when I slow down, I am more focused and better able to manage my schedule, tasks and even the unexpected twists that each day inevitably brings!