Wednesdays 5:15pm, Community Center, DeForest Wisconsin
Register through DeForest Recreation
Not sure? For a snippet of my style of guiding mediations, check this 5 minute meditation out.
Meditation is a stress-relief tool you bring with you everywhere. All it requires is your willingness and attention. You don’t need a meditation pillow or a yoga mat or even a quiet space to practice.
Your body will not perform optimally unless it has relief from stress. We evolved to take our cues from the seasons, the sunsets, and the cycles of the moon, and to use our bodies’ stress response to escape danger and survive. Between times of danger we ate, slept, worked, rested and recovered and spent a whole lot of time in Mother Nature.
In the last few decades, deadlines, alerts, notifications, interruptions, oversaturated media culture, rush and overwhelm keep us in a stress-response for most of our waking hours. Translation for our bodies is that we are being bum-rushed by stampeding elephants non-stop with no chance for recovery. No sleeping by the fire on the ground at the end of the day to reset our systems.
Our bodies and minds need recovery and rest, which is where meditation comes in. Meditation helps us re-educate ourselves on how to be present for our lives while at the same time creating a life that’s more enjoyable.
Foundations of Class:
Breath: If there is an easily accessible key to the mysteries of the universe, this is it. So say the ancient wisdom traditions and anyone who has ever used breath control to achieve an altered spiritual state or even calm down from an anxiety attack. There are many ways to develop a breath practice (pranayama.) In my classes, we hit the basics.
1. Belly breathing: breathing into the lower abdomen.
2. Diaphragmatic breathing: breathing evenly into the front, back and sides of the abdomen
3. Smooth breath: paying attention to any glitches and hitches and skips and intending to smooth them out…but not at the cost of creating strain (see #4)
4. Unstrained breath: the practice of not exerting too much effort as you pay attention to either/all of 1, 2, or 3. The play between 3 and 4 is one of the basic tenets of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras: sthira and sukha (steadiness and ease.)
Paying attention to just one of these for the rest of your life will likely bring profound changes to your state of mind in times of stress. Breath practices can be that powerful.
Posture: For those comfortable sitting on the floor, I encourage Easy Pose, which is essentially criss-cross applesauce, ideally while sitting on a folded blanket or bolster so the hips are higher than the knees. When the spine is aligned, the energy of the body can flow freely. Sitting in a chair tends to shorten the hamstrings and crunch the lower back, though in a community space or if sitting on the floor is a no-go for your knees or hips, chair sitting can definitely work.
Monkey Mind: I need to pick up that rice for dinner. I shouldn’t have said that thing I said to my husband. My kid seems stressed, I wonder what’s wrong. I need to call Charter to get that wifi fixed. I forgot to put the clothes in the dryer. Still pissed at my dad for not calling on my birthday.
Thoughts like these drift and run through our minds for most of the day. It’s no use to get frustrated with your mind. As my yoga teacher at The Studio, Alex Pfeiffer, would put it, this is what minds do, they think.
Part of meditation is to create a focus of attention that rings like a dinner bell to a hungry kid, or serves as a lighthouse for our mind’s eye. It may not still or quiet your thoughts. And here’s the kicker: that’s totally ok. Brains think. Trying to stop your thoughts will just create frustration. Meditation is not about getting your thoughts to stop. It is about the practice of guiding your attention with gentleness and ease, taking up space in your own being.
It can also be about noticing your thoughts. Noticing your state of being. Noticing the feelings running through you at any given moment. Feelings are like clouds. They pass, they shift they change. Often our thoughts are attempting to analyze, justify, disagree with or dampen the feelings we’re having. Meditation allows your state of being to be exactly what it is without attempting to change or deny anything.
I love meditating. And meditation is even more powerful when done together. Join me!