MY FAVORITE CUESNew inspiring cue that revolves around the theme of the month each Wednesday. All content taken is taken down at the end of the month when new theme is posted.
MONTHLY THEME: Meditation/Mindfulness
All cues are meant to be used when you’re in full expression of the pose unless otherwise noted.
Begin your mindfulness practice by sitting comfortably and quietly, taking a few deep breaths if that helps you settle into the stillness. Whenever thoughts come up, just say the word “thinking” to yourself and then gently bring yourself back to sitting quietly. The idea is to become more aware of your mind’s habits and psyche, simply observing without judgement.
Teacher of meditation and Buddhist monk further explains the cue like this: “Every time you become aware of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, thinking, or of a physical or mental feeling (pleasant or unpleasant), you name or note this sensation or perception without going into the content of the phenomenon. Neither do you repress, avoid or escape from it. You don’t need to manipulate or try to change the experience. Whether you feel calm or tense, happy or sad, feel pain or sit comfortably, it really does not matter; the way you feel in this moment is fine. There is no need to change anything.”
To understand what happens to your brain and the impact it has on your psyche when meditating, I strongly encourage you to listen to the 20 minute podcast by neuroscientist Sara Lazar. You will learn how mindfulness and meditation change our brains which is why it is my Favorite Find for the week! And, if you want a quicker explanation, check out the animated video that is this week’s Mini Training!!
See. Hear. Feel. Begin by sitting quietly with a soft body and an even breath. Then build on your mindfulness practice from last week by mentally or orally labeling anything that you see, hear, or feel. A thought in your head or external sound would be labeled as “hear”. Something you are looking at or mentally visualize would be labeled as “see”. Any feeling or emotions that arise would be labeled as “feel”.
This “see, hear, feel” noting practice was developed by Shinzen Young as has been given the official name of “Unified Mindfulness”. He says “spoken or mental labels are options within the process of noting just like first and second gear are options in the process of driving.” In other words, the way in which you use these labels is for you to decide based on what your mind needs to stay focused and present. Any noting practice keeps you at the most basic and intuitive level of mindfulness and is very easy to come back to if the mind begins to wander. This approach to meditation has been truly transformational for me!
If you really want to dive in and learn about the “Unified Mindfulness” technique, here is a link. It’s long but has visuals and deeper explanations. I love it!
Repeat Sat Nam as you work your way around your mala beads. If you’ve never used mala beads in your meditation practice and want some guidance, make sure to head on over to my Favorite Finds where you’ll find a short post from Gabby Bernstein on how to use mala beads as well as the benefits. At the bottom of the post, she takes you on a two minute guided meditation with the beads.
Why use mala beads? Well, for many, seated meditation without a focus can initially be challenging. Gabby explains that using mala beads “ties together many Kundalini traditions into one meditation by combining Naad yoga (the recitation of sacred sounds), gemstone therapy, acupressure and a deep contemplative meditation.”
Note: There are many different kinds of meditation- none of which are better or worse. It’s about what resonates with you.
Keep your mala beads in place where you can always see them so they become a reminder to meditate. Remember 5-10 minutes a day is enough to make a difference. Listen to what Head Space creator says in his Ted talk.
4-7-8 count breath. You can practice this technique while driving, walking, or sitting. Find a steady breath and start inhaling through your nose for a count of 4, then hold your breath for a count of 7, and blow out through your mouth as you exhale for a count of 8. Practice this breathing/meditation technique for 5 rounds. Yes, this is a form of meditation because it helps to create mindfulness.
Dr. Andrew Weil, a well-respected leader in the field of Integrative Medicine, uses this technique with all of his patients. He believes that this breathing/meditation method can reduce anxiety, help to manage food cravings, reduce your response to anger, and help you fall asleep. Wow!
He believes “relaxation practices also help bring the body back into balance and regulate the fight-or-flight response we feel when we’re stressed. This is particularly helpful if you’re experiencing sleeplessness due to anxiety, or worries about what happened today or what might happen tomorrow. Swirling thoughts and concerns can keep us from being able to rest well.”
I shared this 4-7-8 technique during our Breath-Themed Month and quite a few people sent me messages about how beneficial it was for them…so give it a try! I also have a wonderful breath-centered guided meditation for you in this week’s Favorite Finds.
***The cues I find and post are by well respected body experts and Doctors who teach yoga and other body nerds like myself.
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