My Journey to Enlightenment

That’s pretty much all there is to enlightenment. No need to search any further.

Now on to the topic I really mean to be blogging about: meditation.

For the past year, the analogy has gone like this: Meditation is to me as Exercise is to most Americans.  I was the meditation couch potato eating a big bowl of potato chips thinking about how great it would be if I got up and went on a mediation. I kept creating this awesome plan where I was going to get really meditated and start meditating everyday and be awesome.

Trouble was, I just didn’t start. I did a guided meditation here, a few breathing exercises there, but I just reverted back to my non-meditating-proverbial-potato-eating-couch-sitting-tv-watching counterpart.

Until my good friend Ashley:

Ashley

Ashley

introduced me to a meditation community.

The practice is called Sahaj Marg. It sets out a meditation regimen to follow on your own (hour long morning meditation, 20 minute afternoon cleaning, and 10 minute night time prayer – which I don’t do) and then there are 3 hour long group meditations a week and a one-on-one session every other week. If it sounds like a lot, it is, but not as much as it sounds.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

Morning meditation – 20-30 minutes where I focus on my heart center, or the “divine light” in my heart and try to let go of other thoughts

Afternoon cleaning – 15-20 minutes where I let the ‘impressions’ of the day melt away and leave my body through my back while a feeling of peace or the “divine light” enters my body through the front

Prayer – Nope. It’s too weird.

Group meditation – I’m trying to go once a week. I missed this week.

Sittings – So far I’ve done one and I’ll likely continue when they’re offered.

What I like:

Meditation is very relaxing and it has lots of benefits. The community is very welcoming, they make delicious food (Indian food), and it feels nice to be there. There’s something to be said for the formality of it all- it really has gotten me to stick to a practice. I feel like the community members really care about how I’m progressing with meditation.

What I shove-to-the-corner-of-my-plate-and-pretend-it-doesn’t-exist:

There’s  an interesting bit about a “master” in India (that everyone apparently loves) and this prayer that you say and the whole “spirituality” inner-devineness that just doesn’t quite click with me. So at this point I’m able to just sort of turn a blind eye and keep it moving. Hopefully it will stay that way.

All in all, this has been my personal trainer of sorts to kick my butt into meditation. And it’s probably the most different thing that I’ve done as of late. So life is good. (And peaceful)

What’s your experience with mediation?

Tried anything new lately?

 

Frown Fixing 101

You ever have one of those days?

You know, one of those days when you feel…

Me too. It usually happens when I have a lot of alone time with minimal social interaction. (I am probably your textbook extrovert)

And then, when I feel this way, I start to think… “Man, I need a change of pace.” Food is less exciting (yet somehow more inviting). My home starts to repulse me. I start to actually  be bothered by the enormous clutter that I’ve collected in my room since I moved in this past week. And then I’m stumped for what to do.

So I decided to make up a little list. I searched high and low (via Google) and came up with my own mixed-tape, if you will, of the best Frown-Fixing-Blue-Banishing-Mood-Lifting advice. We’ll call it the Great Frown Fixing List.

The Great Frown Fixing List

 Frown Fixer #1: Move Your Body

Alright, so if Beyonce doesn’t happen to show up in your workplace/home/cafeteria there are other alternatives. I like a quick walk outside- it seriously turns my day around. Several studies show that exercising outdoors improves mental well-being. And a brisk, 15-minute walk “can improve your mood and increase your energy for up to two hours,” (Thayer, R.- a psychologist as quoted here)

Frown Fixer #2: Listen to the Music

The same R. Thayer (psychologist Robert Thayer of California State University) found that after exercise, music is the second-most effective way to turn around a mood.

I, personally, use this method when I’m working on something that’s really stressing me out (i.e., a paper for school, notes for work). Basically, when I’m stuck inside doing what I’m doing and the chain-chewing-gum-monster in me is rearing its ugly head, music is super-effective in improving my mood.

Frown Fixer #3: Coffee

OK, OK, so I didn’t find this on any one of my “mood booster” google searches. But coffee is for-real an awesome mood booster! (for me) I’m a regular coffee drinker, so it’s part of my daily routine at this point, but I have a particularly vivid memory from several years ago of coffee’s blue-banishing powers:

For reasons that I will not go into, I was feeling really sad one day and spending time with one of my good friends/roommate-at-the-time and we decided to get some coffee before walking over to “The Lawn” at UVA where tons of little kids were trick-or-treating in their Halloween costumes (because it was Halloween weekend). Well, once the powerful-elixir started to kick in, all of a sudden I was optimistic and hopeful about life! And that + lots-of-cute-little-children made my day.

Frown Fixer #4: Laughter

So, obviously it’s fun to laugh. And studies show that laughter not only makes you feel good emotionally but also, “after you laugh, you go into a relaxed state,” (John Morreal, here) Your heart rate/blood pressure lowers and you release endorphins. For quick laughs, The Onion is a great spot:  Tom Brady Questionable For Sunday’s Game After Waking Up Ugly
Or maybe SNL’s Digital Shorts are more up your alley.

Frown Fixer #5: Phone a Friend

Or visit a friend or make plans for a later date with a friend or whatever friend-related thing you can do. For me, this is an instant mood lifter. (Like we addressed earlier, I’m your textbook extrovert) And social support can even help you live longer.

Frown Fixer #6: Think quick!

This one’s pretty neat. Next time you’re feeling down (or need a break from school/work), do a rapid thinking exercise. This site uses these examples: quickly list all kinds of uses for a paperclip, solve a sudoku puzzle as quickly as possible. I used to take breaks from my schoolwork by playing Text Twist.

So now that you’ve boosted your mood, go and be merry! Or check out…

This Week in Workouts
Su – rest
M – Circuit Strength Training
Tu – 4.26 mile run at a 9:40 pace
W – Circuit Strength Training
Th – rest
F – Circuit Strength Training
Sa – Boot Camp

FOCUS!

^^This is what I need to do. Clearly I’ve been busy since I haven’t posted since last Friday. But I’ve been thinking of posting. It’s been itching my brain. Popping up to remind me that another day has passed and I still haven’t gotten around to it. I think that my problem is that I need more order and (going back to the title) focus in my life. For instance, right now I have 6 tabs open on this window, 2 tabs open in another window, and 2 tabs open in a third (collapsed) window. I have 10 things that I want to get done in my limited free time and just can’t seem to focus on one long enough to finish it before jumping to the next.

If you recall I’ve been trying to work on meditation lately… actually I don’t know if I ever posted about it. Well, either way, I’ve drifted away from it again. (yes, in the week and a half that I’ve started again, I’ve managed to drift) I found myself falling asleep the past couple of times that I did it so it was probably no use to me anyways haha.

But I’m determined to try and get in the routine of doing it after work every day to bring the focus back into my life. Cool article on benefits of meditation for stress here. The brief article also includes a link to learn more about the practice.
This morning I finally got back to yoga. I didn’t go last week and I can really tell I was missing it. Speaking of workouts…
This Week in Workouts:
Sa – 40 minute Circuit Strength Training
Su – Off
M – 45 minute elliptical (alt. forwards/backwards every 5 min)
T – 40 minute Circuit Strength Training
W – 45 minutes cycle class
TR – 60 minute yoga
F – planning on 40 minute Circuit Strength Training
NOW to the FUN STUFF!!!
THIS WEEKEND WAS MY BIRTHDAY! 😀

Well, actually, my birthday was May 2nd. But I celebrated all weekend. Saturday I had dinner with my parents and a couple friends and later had an awesome cocktail party with friends at my apartment.
Me at my apartment (in a newly purchased dress from Target)
Dancing ensued.
And distracting kisses-while-late-night-pizza-ordering
Monday (my actual birthday) was celebrated with friends, beer, and $2 burgers (black bean for me) at Capital Ale House, a local restaurant in Richmond.
Bed time now. But here’s a hint for something exciting that I’m going to post about soon: it was a gift, it’s black, it’s rectangular. Guess away!
And tell me, what do you do to enjoy your birthday?

Stolen from OneFitFoodie…

Disclaimer: I saw this here and decided to repost this for my readers. No creative energy was spent in creating this post, I just liked this list a lot.

How To Love Yourself by Louise L. Hay

1.) STOP ALL CRITICISM. Criticism never changes a thing. Refuse to criticize yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. Everybody changes. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive.

2.) DON’T SCARE YOURSELF. Stop terrorizing yourself with your thoughts. It’s a dreadful way to live. Find a mental image that gives you pleasure (mine is yellow roses), and immediately switch your scary thought to a pleasure thought.


3.) BE GENTLE AND KIND AND PATIENT. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself as you learn the new ways of thinking. Treat yourself as you would someone you really loved.


4.) BE KIND TO YOUR MIND. Self-hatred is only hating your own thoughts. Don’t hate yourself for having the thoughts. Gently change your thoughts.


5.) PRAISE YOURSELF. Criticism breaks down the inner spirit. Praise builds it up. Praise yourself as much as you can. Tell yourself how well you are doing with every little thing.


6.) SUPPORT YOURSELF. Find ways to support yourself. Reach out to friends and allow them to help you. It is being strong to ask for help when you need it.


7.) BE LOVING TO YOUR NEGATIVES. Acknowledge that you created them to fulfill a need. Now you are finding new, positive ways to fulfill those needs. So lovingly release the old negative patterns.


8.) TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY. Learn about nutrition. What kind of fuel does your body need to have optimum energy and vitality? Learn about exercise. What kind of exercise can you enjoy? Cherish and revere the temple you live in.


9.) MIRROR WORK. Look into your eyes often. Express this growing sense of love you have for yourself. Forgive yourself looking into the mirror. Talk to your parents looking into the mirror. Forgive them too. At least once a day say: “I love you, I really love you!”


10.) LOVE YOURSELF… DO IT NOW. Don’t wait until you get well, or lose the weight, or get the new job, or the new relationship. Begin now – and do the best you can.

Lick-the-Beaters Moments

>Today I am a little stressed because I have lots of schoolwork due on Wednesday, but I thought I would take a minute to jot down some of the small things that have brightened up my day today. I’ve decided to call them “lick-the-beaters” moments because, well licking the beaters is the ultimate simple pleasure in life. (OK, it’s probably not the ultimate simple pleasure, but work with me here)

1. Making a perfectly brewed pot of coffee.
This takes serious art with my sister’s coffee maker. Not only do you have to make sure that you have the perfect grounds per cup ratio, but you also have to make sure that you have the “accuflavor” (light–strong setting) on the right notch.

But this morning I succeeded in making the perfect cup.

2. Salvaging an almost-burned batch of oats. — So I was dillydallying as my oats were on the stove, and when I got back to them, a lot was stuck to the bottom. And I thought “oh no I’ll have to make a whole new batch!” But then I added a little more milk, covered them, and removed them from the heat, and voila! They were juuust right.



Steel Cut Oats made w/1/2 milk & pumpkin, peanut flour, & spices
3. Stealing leftovers from my parents’ house for lunch
Leftover Veggies + Roast chicken = Veggies + Roast chicken & Swiss Sandwich
4. Feeling strong! — Today at the gym I did my circuit training workout, and I felt a lot stronger. I was able to decrease my assisted pull ups to 40 lbs of assistance (used to do 50 lbs), increased my plie squat weight by 5 lbs, and increased the reps of all of my core exercises by about 5.
5. Making a fresh batch of iced tea with my Iced Tea Maker
soooo gooood
I made SPORTea (Iced version).
This tea is deliiiccciooouuus. The claims on the box are a little extreme, though. It sort of reminds me of powerthirst. Really, it’s just good tasting de-caffeinated tea. Nothing sporty about it.
6. Getting s@#$* done. — Paid bills, put away laundry, did the dishes. Feeling pretty darn accomplished right about now… Now if only I had gotten more work done on the paper I have due Wednesday…