My Meditation Setup

When meditating, it is important to be comfortable. Being present in your body goes from being pleasant and relaxing to near torturous when your focus centers on the sensation of your spine being compressed or the ache you feel in your joints.

When I first started meditating, I would sit on my basement floor, crossed-legged, with my butt directly on the floor – which happens to be thin carpet with little padding over concrete. This was fine for shorter 5 minute meditation, but when I began challenging myself to do at least 15 minutes, something had to change. My spine ached with the stress and pressure and I found myself focusing on that pain and discomfort.

Many people use a zabuton and zafu, a round pillow and a pad, to meditate. It gives your body a bit of padding and allows you to better relax and settle into a solid meditative position. You sit on the round pillow, with your legs crossed, but somewhat dangling loose in front of you. This takes loads of stress off your spine.

Believing that you don’t have to spend money to seek wellness, I improvised. I took a plushy blanket and folded it into a nice rectangle to give it a bit more thickness. And then I took a throw pillow that, while cute (It has a corgi face on it, of course), didn’t really do anything else for me – until now.

My typical setup

This set up has greatly increased my comfort and helps me focus on more pleasant or neutral sensations while meditating.

Which brings me do another point. If at anytime while you’re meditating and you feel stressed or tense in any part of your body and simple releasing doesn’t seem to help, take a breath or two to stretch. I find that rolling my neck or shoulders help release tension that sometimes builds up over a longer session.

Find your mind wandering to things beyond the here and now? Wiggle your toes a bit, and focus your thought on them. It’s a great little trick for bringing you back and breaking a rumination cycle.

A little bit of movement as needed is okay. What’s the point of meditating if it causes you suffering?

What set up do you use when you’re meditating?

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70 in February

February is typically the coldest month we suffer here in North Georgia. It’s when we have the best chance of our yearly snowfall, and it’s when we have the biggest heating bills.

The polar vortex thing that was happening touched us only a little bit. While certain places up north were experiencing wind chills of -60, we were balmy down here in the teens and 20s.

But that took a dramatic turn this past weekend and even through today. It’s been an early spring, with temperatures in the mid-60s and even hitting the 70s yesterday.

Holy crap, it’s been amazing.

And it is most definitely fleeting.

And so while it’s decently warm and sunny (for the most part), I’ve been enjoying the time outside as much as possible. We went for a hike on Saturday (write-up to come), and on both Saturday and Sunday, I did my meditation outside. Yesterday, we even had the windows open at work, letting the fresh air and warmth in the building.

My meditation set-up on my porch

And though by next week, the temperatures will return to a more frigid normal,  and I will remember this refreshing sneak peak of spring, and know that warmer days are on the horizon.

I am grateful for these glorious 70 degree days in February.

My Mantra

My mantra changes as I need it. As I’ve posted before, I’ve had multiple mantras, some to help me feel empowered during my most despairing times, some to just keep me motivated.

I am Fit

I am Flexible

I am Focused

I have momentum

I make good, healthy choices

And I don’t let the small things get in my way.

I want to point out that my mantra is 100% in the present tense. It’s amazing the power a verb tense holds. I don’t say anything in future tenses. I will make good, healthy choices means I’m not making them right here and now. I DO make good, healthy choices.

See how much more powerful that sounds?

I repeat my mantra to myself multiple times during my morning meditations. It’s typically how I start my routine and how I end it. Several times in the past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself in certain situations where I’ve subconsciously called on my mantra to help guide me through the particulars of the day. Just this past weekend, I faced my wickedest frenemy – Krispy Kreme donuts, but I told myself that I do indeed make good, healthy choices and I moved on. I was rewarded this morning by finally breaking my weight/body fat plateau that I’ve been stuck at since before Christmas.

 

 

Smithgall Hike: Tower Road

On Saturday, Greg and I returned to one of our favorite local destinations – The Smithgall Woods Center for a hike.

Smithgall is awesome because most of the time, the entire park is pedestrian only. So even just getting around in the park is a hike in itself, and there’s several hiking trails off of the main road. It’s a peaceful, less populated state park.

I am happy to say, that the park has fully reopened. Last time we went, most of it was closed because the main road had been washed away, leaving behind a ravine.

This time
Last time

Instead of hitting up one of the normal hiking trails, we decided to take a graveled side road up to a cell tower. The road is aptly named Tower Road. We’d never explored this part of the park before, and I can say for certain that this is definitely the steepest part of Smithgall.

We took the Scotch and Beans and had some fun. After not going hiking or leaving the house much at all these past few weekends, it felt awesome to get out in nature again and really reset myself for the week at hand. Nothing makes me more content than a jaunt through the woods amongst the happy tree pheromones ion thingies (no really – look up “Forest Bathing”)

 

Growth

Each morning, pretty soon after waking up, I set my intention for the day. Typically, this intention is just one or two words that I hope will guide me to  a meaningful day.

Productivity, focus, health, happiness, contentment, momentum, minimize — these are all words I’ve used to set the tone for my day.

But what about long term? This year, I’m trying something new. I’m setting a renewing intention for the year. I’ll still have my varying daily focuses, but all relate back to my overarching theme for this year – Growth.

I want to grow.

No not taller, y’all. I don’t wish I were a baller. I mean, I AM short, and could use an extra inch or two to my stature, but that’s beside the point.

I mean that I want to grow as a person. I want to focus on growth in multiple facets of my life. I want to grow my intellect. I want to increase my muscle mass. I want to improve my physical health and go deeper with my emotional and mental well-being. I want to grow to be a warmer, more compassionate person.

I never want to stop improving.

And so this year, I resolve to grow.

What intention have you set for 2019?

30 Day Meditation Challenge

Along with one of my bosses, I organize our mindset training group at work. Mindset training is one of my favorite job perks, and helping form and run it is an extremely fullfilling duty. I love this group of folks and the self-improvement work that we do, together.

This month, we decided to do a meditation challenge, but unlike other challenges, each person made up their own goal to accomplish over the next 30 days.

Mine is to meditate at least 15 minutes once a day over the next 30 days.

Though the challenge officially started yesterday, I knew about it ahead of time (one of the perks of being a leader), so I’ve been gearing myself up and figuring out the best way to adjust my morning routine to fit.

This morning, I hit a personal milestone. I’ve meditated for 10 days straight. Woohoo! It’s a nice little win for myself.

Writing a goal or intention down, pen to paper, makes it more real. You have a tanglible reminder of what you wanted to accomplish. So everyone who is taking part,  wrote down their personal challenge.

There is no winners or losers in this challenge, no competition, just a pledge to improve yourself.

What mindfulness practice do you challenge yourself to do over the next month?

I’m excited, and I hope everyone does well.

Taking a Rest

Growth comes from rest. When you work out a muscle, the fibers tear. These tears are where the growth occurs. But if you just keep tearing, day after day, without giving you body time to repair itself, you risk serious injury.

Which is why I decided to forgo a workout session tonight. My legs hurt something fierce. I’m not sure if it was from my regular workout rourine, or from the two games of bowling yesterday,  but as the day has gone on, I’ve found myself in increasing pain.

My gear shall remain untouched tonight

I welcome a bit of soreness, because it means I accomplished something. But sometimes, I over do it. If I don’t take the time to heal, I’ll only make things worse. So tonight, I’m taking a break from my normal Monday night workout session.

The same is also true for your mental health. If you don’t take the time to stop and allow you mind and soul to repair itself from those little tears they experience everyday, instead going on and on, with no stress relief, the pain will debilitate you.  Overwhelm will set in. Meditation is a great way to rest your mind. Being mindful and grateful is another way. However you chose to stop and relax your mind, it doesn’t matter. Just remember to allow yourself time to rest and heal.

So this is a reminder to stop. Be present. Focus on you, your surroundings, what’s happening right now. Is there any part of you–mind, body, or soul–that needs a rest?