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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Nutrition

Check out my latest blog at www.peacefullivingwellness.com!

Topic: Holiday Nutrition

I would love to have lots of people add to my helpful hints! :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Finding Balance

Finding Balance: How do you find balance?

Balance is one of the essential elements of yoga. We practice all sorts of asanas (poses) to improve our balance. Yet I, and I believe a lot of yogi(ni)s, forget to practice balance in how we time or live our lives. I find myself running amok so often. Realistically, this type of running around is part of my roles in life. That is, I drive kids around, I drive to do all my errands, I drive from client to client, from city to city. That's a lot of driving.




But how much is too much? A few weeks ago I received my supplies from the natural medicine school from which I'm taking classes in holistic health. At the same time a phone call came in from a charter school for which my son was on the waiting list. There was space for him now! Both of these events were wonderful news in their own way. But they were also going to put much more pressure on my already hectic schedule. (The school requires homeschooling on Fridays and doesn't have after school care). Upon contemplating this I ended up with quite a headache!



My first thoughts were along the lines of, "how am I going to take all of this on?" But then after some meditative contemplation I remembered that taking on more than I can handle is a sure recipe for ill health, both emotionally and physically. So I've decided to cut-back on marketing and social media - BUT NOT THE BLOG CONVERSATION :) - and to ask for and hire help. This may mean fewer luxuries in life, like a birthday mini-break, a new car anytime soon, manicures, massages, etc. But, my schooling won't take years, so I can concentrate more on business when it's done. And my son's educational opportunity will last him a lifetime.



Will I stay in balance? Not always, but these steps are a good start for me.



What do you all do to stay in balance? If you're out of balance, what can you do?



Love & Light,



Jen

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How To Help Sore Muscles

How To Help Sore Muscles  http://www.peacefullivingwellness.com/

MY HELPFUL HINT FOR TODAY:




I had a photoshoot for some pics for my website yesterday. It was quite fun, but now my back is killing me from doing a lot of back-bending poses. So what to do...



First, you always want to stretch in the opposite direction of what you were doing to cause the soreness (I actually should have done this yesterday after doing the back bends. The fact that I didn't added to the soreness). So for me, because I was bending backwards, I need to stretch my back by bending it forwards. Child's pose is great for this. Cat (of the "cat-cow" sequence), and both standing forward bends & sitting (wide-legged or straight-legged or even in a chair) forward bends are really good for this too.



Second, after some gentle (always gentle when working with sore muscles) stretching, soaking in an Epsom salts bath works wonders. I take a cup of Epsom salts & dissolve them in warm water before adding them to the bath. You can also add your favorite essential oil (I love lavendar for its calming effects) to the mixture & enjoy some emotional as well as muscular soothing.



Speaking of which, I'm going to go do that right now :)



Enjoy!



Love, Light & Namaste!



Jen



PS ~ Check out "Embraced Photos" facebook page to see the photographer, Bridget's, awesome work!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stretching

Stretching http://www.peacefullivingwellness.com/


Let's stretch out the neck this week.




Sit up straight in your chair. On an inhale stretch through the top of the head & lower shoulders from your ears. On the exhale slowly drop your right ear toward your right shoulder. Take a few deep breaths here. When you are ready, on an exhale, slowly turn your nose down toward your right knee. This stretches into the back of the neck. If you want a more intense stretch, you can use your right hand to gently pull on the back of your head, lowering your nose a little bit more toward the knee. To return your head to neutral, use that right hand on your forhead, gently pushing your head back up. This preserves the integrity of the stretch.



Repeat on the other side & enjoy the tension release :)



Love & Light!



Jen

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ahh... The Moments of Peace between tantrums

Ok, so it turns out that I'm not the most consistent blogger around... sorry about that :(

I made a decision a couple of weeks ago that if blogging was going to add stress to my life - instead of adding peaceful living - I was not going to be consistent about it. It would seem a bit hypocritical don't you think? I'm thinking that when the kids go back to school I'll be more consistent. This, interestingly enough brings me to today's topic - tantrums! One of the reasons I've been off-line, so-to-speak, is because by the time I'm able to sit at my computer to blog I'm plumb worn out from my four-year-old's tantrums during the day. Unfortunately I'm not able to give any advice as to what to do about the tantrums... for that you'll need to go to Kimberley Blaine's website www.thegotomom.tv (also see it in my fav links). But what I would like to address is how much I relish the time between the tantrums.  She's napping right now, which is a rarity! And it is so quiet and lovely in the house. My son and my husband are at the beach, the dog is sleeping at my feet, and there isn't even a Gardener with a gasoline powered blower making noise outside. This is what Sundays should be about!  (I can't seem to get away from the power blower noise Monday through Saturday!) I am literally sitting here relishing the quiet. WOW!

I don't mean to in any way say that tantrums are not trying for the parents who have to deal with them. Even with yoga and meditation in my life they are really, really, really, hard to deal with. Sometimes I'm left with shaking hands and a major headache. But there is something to say about the juxtaposition of the tantrums against the quiet times. I really think it makes me more appreciative of the quiet times. I guess this could be said of any and all of the noise in our lives - yes even the power blowers. I live in a fairly quiet suburb of San Diego county in California, but it is still noisy! Even going to the beach is often really noisy. There are cars and planes and trains that rarely seem to cease adding to the noise along our coastline. So when I do find quiet, even at the beach sometimes, it is all the more luscious and I appreciate it deeply.

Here's a list of the places I find peaceful quiet:

The gardens at the Self Realization Fellowship in Encinitas, CA
The mountains (most recently in Idyllwild, CA with my best girlfriends)
The beach between planes, trains and automobiles. And only during the non-tourist season and during the week.
My house on the occasional Sunday when Layna is sleeping and the boys are out (okay, this is actually the first time that has happened... )

Where do you find quiet? How do you relish it?

I can't wait to hear from you all!

Love and Light,

Jen

PS ~ if you have a blog or a website you would like me to put in my links just let me know :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More on Meditation... Personalizing Your Mantra

It seems that Tuesday is going to be blog day. So do be sure to check in on Tuesday evenings or Wednesday mornings each week. And remember, your comments and additions to the blog are very, very, important and welcomed! :)

As promised last week, today's blog is a continuation of learning about meditation.  I went to a wonderful meditation workshop at Common Ground Corona last week. Here is some of the wisdom Reverend Danell shared with us:

1. When meditating with prayer or mala beads the number 108 is significant. According to Wikipedia the number 108 is sacred in Eastern religions for the following reasons ~

The number 108 is considered sacred in many Eastern religions and traditions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and connected yoga and dharma based practices. For example, Hindu deities have 108 names. Recital of these names, often accompanied by counting of 108-beaded Mala, is considered sacred and often done during religious ceremonies. The recital is called namajapa. Accordingly, a mala usually has beads for 108 repetitions of a mantra. Likewise, Zen priests wear juzu (a ring of prayer beads) around their wrists, which consists of 108 beads.[1]


Japa Mala, or Japa beads, made from Tulasi wood. Comprising of 108 beads in total + the head bead.

The Lankavatara Sutra repeatedly refers to the 108 steps many temples have.[2]

However, in Tibetan Buddhism it is believed that there are 108 sins. And in Japan, at the end of the year, a bell is chimed 108 times to finish the old year and welcome the new one. Each ring represents one of 108 earthly temptations a person must overcome to achieve nirvana.

2. Danell has a different take on the mantra than other teachers from whom I've learned about mantras. She advises to use a mantra that is personally meaningful. That way you are able to feel and be the mantra. Other teachers I've experienced advise using the mantra as a concentration point or a distraction for a busy mind. This is still within the scope of what Reverend Danell teaches, but her point about personalizing the mantra allows the mind, body, and spirit to connect on the particular concept embraced in the mantra.

3. Mantras should always be positive. Words such as "not" or "do not" are negative to the brain.

4. Belief in the mantra is extremely important.  Be present with your mantra and believe it. This will allow you to feel it and experience it fully.

5. You can have a particular mantra in mind when you start meditation or you can be still and allow the mantra to arise from within you.

6. The mantra can go at different speeds throughout your meditation.

7. Your mantra can be chanted outloud or internally. Whatever you are most comfortable with.

8. Start by speaking your mantra (whether outloud or internally ~ e.g. thinking it), but then allow yourself to relax into listening to it. According to Reverend Dannel, "at first you speak your mantra, but then it becomes internalized and becomes a memory of the sound; that is the listening part".

9. If meditating with beads you can count the beads as you are chanting or just pass each bead through your fingers with each recitation of the mantra.

10. When holding the beads, lay them over the middle finger of your right hand (not your index finger) and pull each bead toward you with your thumb. Feel free to roll the bead around a little if you like.

Personalizing the mantra was a different technique for me. For one thing, as a yoga practioner and teacher I am used to chanting in Sanskrit. And while I know what each of the Sanskrit mantras means, I don't necessarily personalize them. Thus, I decided to use the technique of sitting with a quiet mind and letting the mantra arise. Well, of course, because I have a chattering monkey brain, sitting with a quiet mind didn't work very well ~ in spite of the prayer beads I was stringing through my fingers. So I started internally just chanting "Aum", the sound of the universe (sometimes spelled "Om"). That helped some, but different words kept coming into my mind. I would chant them for a bit... "peace, peace, peace"... but the first several words just didn't seem right.  Then I thought, what do I want most for myself. And the word "calm" came into my mind. Yes, the name of my business is "Peaceful Living Wellness". So I thought "peace" would work well. But, I guess to me, finding a bit of "peaceful living" comes from having a calm mind and heart. The word "calm" flowed gracefully over my mind and the prayer beads. It felt like a soft wave and soon I felt like I was floating on that soft wave.

The meditation time was over like a blink of an eye. We were meditating for over twenty minutes, but I felt like it was five minutes. The relaxation that comes from meditation is absolutely amazing. Not only was I able to embrace that sense of calm, but I also felt joyful and lighthearted. Imagine, all that from just twenty minutes of breathing and internal chanting!

In the words of my favorite kirtan artist, Snatum Kaur,  "breath into your quiet center"...

Love, Light, and Namaste!

Jen

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Finding a few moments of peace is possible

After my crazy day the other day, I realized I really needed to take some time out! So on Sunday, I  packed-up my six-year-old son and took him up to my favorite spiritual center. Common Ground is in Corona, California which is over an hour from my house. Thus, I don't get there very often. But I knew I really needed some spiritual renewal, so I made the trek. It was well worth it! The service is extremely calming and the human energy in the room is warm and comforting. I was a little worried about taking my son with me, as they don't have childcare. But he did a great job! He played quietly with his toy cars while I was able to meditate and listen to the speaker.

Insterestingly enough, the speaker, Yogi Dada Nabhaniilananda, was talking about why people don't meditate. It honestly comes down to the fact that we just don't take the time to meditate ~ see my last blog post about crazy, busy, days. Yes, there are other reasons, such as when people feel like they don't know how to meditate or when they try and their minds wander. But I can attest to the fact that with practice meditation becomes easy and  very renewing for body, mind and spirit. Back to my original point though... I (we) often don't take the time to practice. Yogi Dada told a story about how once when he was in Thailand he saw a Buddhist monk scolding other Buddhist monks about the fact that they weren't meditating. The monk said to his brethren, "The Buddha is not meditating for you!". So it's not just we Americans who don't meditate when we really should be. It's Thai Buddhist monks too :)

The moral of the story is that it only takes a few minutes each day to meditate. And those few minutes will add peace to your life. This is actually empirically proven by brain scan research. Brain scans of yogis and monks meditating show that the brain slows down and rests, much like in sleep. Some neuroscientists believe that the rest the brain receives from meditation is even more beneficial to humans than sleep. Please email me if you want me to dig-up the citations for this research: sdyogamom@yahoo.com

So, some of you may be saying, "okay Jen, but it is really hard to find the time!" This is true. I know from my own busy life. However, I took a meditation class at the Deepak Chopra center last summer and learned that we only need to meditate twice a day for fifteen minutes. Davidji, the lead meditation teacher at the Chopra Center, said to just do it once when you get up in the morning and once at the end of your work/ school/ etc. day. Even if you can't fit in two fifteen minute sessions, I bet you can fit in one. And even one is very beneficial.

So here's the challenge:

For the next week find fifteen minutes per day to just sit quietly. Maybe it will be first thing in the morning. Or maybe you can find time in your office, with a closed door, during your lunch. Or maybe it will be with some soothing music on the car stereo in the parking lot before you leave your work for the day. For you stay-at-home moms and dads, try finding the time while the kiddos nap. Or set them up with something educational (or just entertaining :) ) on TV and go to your bedroom or outside.

Here are some helpful tips. Try one or all of them.

1. Concentrate on listening to your breath. Inhale for a count of four, exhale for a count of six, and count in your head with both inhale and exhale.

2. Listen to soft music.

3. Try using a mantra ~ a repeated word or phrase. This can be in any language you prefer. I prefer to chant mantras in Sanskrit because that's how I learned them. But you can use English or anything else. My favorite Sanskrit easy chant is, "Om Namah Shivaya". It roughly means, "amen to my one true self". I inhale and then chant on the exhale. Many different chants can be found on the internet. Try http://www.buddhanet.com/

4. Listen to a guided meditation. These can be found in recorded versions online. I have purchased some from http://www.audible.com/. You can probably find them for free if you search though. They are usually longer than fifteen minutes. In fact, guided meditations can be up to an hour or more. To me, that is complete luxury!!! I loovvee the long ones and often feel in absolute la la land after listening to one.

5. If your mind strays, that is okay. Our minds (especially mine) are chatterboxes! Let it go and then bring it back to the breath or the mantra. Sometimes I feel like my mind is chattering during my entire meditation, and yet, miraculously, I feel rested and renewed anyway :)

6. Don't meditate or listen to guided meditations while driving, biking, or probably even walking. There are walking meditations, but they are usually done in a labyrinth so you don't wander off. And, walking the pattern of the labyrinth is part of the meditation.

Hopefully these "tips" will help with your challenge this week. Happy meditating!

PS ~ more to come on meditation on Thursday. I'm going to a meditation workshop at Common Ground on Thursday morning. For information on Common Ground go to http://www.commongroundcorona.com/

PSS ~  People have been telling me that they are trying to post to this blog, but their posts aren't showing-up. Please let me know via email if this happens. I can be reached at sdyogamom@yahoo.com
I am moderating the posts, so it will take up to a day for them to appear.

Love and Light!

Jen
The San Diego Yoga Mom