Posted in yoga and meditation

Do Nothing

Overlooking part of the orchard

“Even when we are doing nothing, we are doing something.”

-New Skills Academy

Think about it. How often do you actually sit and do nothing? I mean absolutely nothing, other than the necessities of life that your autonomic nervous system takes care of for you?

Although our various gizmos and gadgets are supposed to make our lives easier, we’ve become slaves to them. Who’s guilty of checking their various social media accounts as soon as they wake up?

Sigh. I know I am, and I hate gadgets! Don’t get me wrong. There’s a time and place for all of them, but when it replaces time spent with friends or the family members you live with, that’s where the problems start.

But, this post isn’t about the whole “unplug” movement. I mean, it can be, if that’s what you take away from it, and it is a step in the right direction.

I’m talking about after you’ve put all your devices away. And, ehem, I’m sure I’m not the first person to note that the word “vice” is embedded there in “device”, right?

Back to my point; you’ve put everything away, and perhaps you’re sitting outside one beautiful morning, listening to the birds, having your morning coffee or tea or warm water with lemon or whatever strikes your fancy. I’m not here to judge. Drink your green goo, if that’s what makes you happy. Because, really, this post is about finding happiness.

Our favourite apple tree, Bob Gnarly

Let’s return to our peaceful outdoor setting. Is your mind quiet? Is it at peace? Or, instead of enjoying that beautiful moment, are you mentally conducting your to-do list, planning your day to the last detail, or reliving old hurts, arguments, issues?

So, really, you’re not doing nothing, are you?

I’ve been meditating for just over two years now, in various ways. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the matter, but I do know that who I am today, I owe largely to meditation.

Lately, I’ve been out of whack. I could feel myself spiralling, feeling frazzled, coming unglued. Full moon? That could have something to do with it. But I know myself enough to know that something was going on but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Getting back to our gadgets for just a minute…there I was, on my gadget, scrolling for some meditation music. Sometimes, I like music, sometimes I like nothing. There’s no right and wrong, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

But what was wrong was that I then started scrolling through my social media feed. On my yoga mat. Bam.

This wasn’t me- not the me I wanted to be, or thought I was! Ironically, what made me become aware was a social media ad for an online mindfulness meditation course.

I read the course outline and it was then that I realized that at some point over the last couple of weeks, I’d stopped doing nothing, and was multi-tasking even during those rare few minutes when I attempted to do nothing.

And I felt it.

Of course I signed up for the course. I read the first module at 11:30 that night, in the dark (on my gadget). There was something magical about reading it in the dark, as it truly eliminated all other distractions and I could focus fully. All that existed in that space were the words that I was reading. Words that reminded me to do nothing, to notice my thoughts, then let them go, not to attach myself to them.

This isn’t anything new; I knew this already. My yoga teacher often says those very words at the studio that I attend. The first time he did, during my second time there, I bawled my way through class, and many times thereafter along my healing journey. Luckily, there are numerous boxes of tissue scattered strategically around the studio.

No, it wasn’t anything new. I had simply forgotten. It’s so easy to get caught up in everything that we sometimes forget how essential self-care is. Self-care for your mind.

Do yourself a favour; if nothing else, set aside one day this week where you will try to spend just ten minutes doing nothing. Nothing. Hear the sounds around you, smell the smells, exhale it all out, let it go, and do nothing.

A whole lot of nothing.

Namaste, sat nam, cheers, my friends.

Posted in yoga and meditation

Where’s your Happy Place?

My happy place

Do you have a happy place? A physical place that you can retreat to every day that grounds you and makes you feel peaceful?

In today’s ever-hectic, plugged in, I’m always connected world, what do you do to find balance?

I’ve had people tell me they don’t have an extra room or space, but guess what?It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. It can be as simple as rolling out a yoga mat in a quiet corner of a room, sitting on the floor on a soft, comfy cushion or blanket, or lounging in a favourite chair. You can even just escape to your bedroom for time alone with a nice candle and gentle music, sit on your bed, close your eyes and just breathe.

Happy corner of a room…no makeup, glasses, bad hair, no care

Here’s the thing; closing your eyes doesn’t mean that you have to meditate. While I, personally, am into that and highly recommend it, if you’re ready for it, you’ll find it in your own good time.  I’m not going to be the meditation “pusher”!  (“Pssst, wanna meditate?!”)

But, in the meantime, you can just close your eyes and be “present”. 

What does that mean? I speak from experience, you know.  I was the go, go, go type, look at me, I’m multi-tasking and so in control and blah blah blah, yeah, I’m balanced.  I’m superfu**ing woman.

I’d close my eyes and what would I do? Go over everything that transpired that day, or days before, think about the next day, mentally compose my to-do list, or compose entire email responses in my head, then open my eyes and…and what? And nothing, really. Why? Because I was not present in that moment.

I was reliving the past or trying to plan the future.

So what does it mean to be present? I’m sure if you google it, you’ll find a plethora of information. Hey, let’s do it, for fun. Bam, done. In mere seconds, I found over 2.3 billion posts using just the words “be present”.  So this present stuff must really be something, right?

It is, once you get the hang of it. It took me several tries to find what worked for me and what did it was my birds. Yes, mine.  I feed them, talk to them, fill their bird bath with water, therefore they are mine. They are free to come and go, but they choose to stay. Mine.  

One of my happy places is pictured above.  It’s not a professional photo, maybe it’s even a bit blurry. That’s okay, my life isn’t, nor will it ever be, picture-perfect. I love to sit outside in this spot and just listen to my birds. That’s how it really started for me, before I even started meditating.

Just. Listen.

That’s all.  Take in the sounds around you.  The chirping, that one, crazy bird that’s always off key, the wind chimes jangling, traffic from the near-by highway 401, geese squawking as they fly overhead…they all blend together in a wonderful symphony. 

Be present.  It means not thinking of yesterday or even of a few minutes ago, or tomorrow and beyond.  Notice the colours playing behind your eyelids, your breath, even the sound of someone coughing close by. Acknowledge the sounds, let them go, just sit quietly and observe. Let it all come and go, like waves gentling rippling along the shoreline. Let your mind and body recharge, your heart rate slow down. 

Just enjoy that moment. Nothing more. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

Coffee/tea Meditation

Not your thing but you feel you need something? Try this easy coffee/tea “meditation” that you can even take a few minutes for at work. Bonus tip: it even helps clear blocked sinuses a bit by inhaling the steam.

Go ahead and make whatever you normally make- see how simple that is? You start with what you’re already doing.  Whether you’re sitting at home with it, or at work, just close your eyes before you even take that first delicious sip.  

Hold the cup under your nose like a mini steam bath for your nasal passages. Inhale deeply, expand you lungs, take in that wonderful aroma. You might even feel your mouth water. Your tongue is practically trying to escape your mouth so that your taste buds can have their fix. Hold on.  Exhale, deeply. More. Gently let all the air out of your lungs. Pause. Hold the breath for a heartbeat, then inhale the aroma again, deeply.

Do this about three times, just enjoying the scent, the heat, those few precious moments that you have. Then, finally, have your first sip.  Savour it. Keep those eyes closed! Another deep breath, another deep exhale, another long sip.  Relax with the steam, savour the flavour, notice your breath.

Guess what? You were in the moment. You were present. I hate to tell you this….but you even just kind of meditated. 

Namaste, enjoy the day, cheers, my friends.

What’s your happy place? Please share and tell us what works for you.