Meditating is hard. It can seem like a daunting task and after repeated failure it is easy to just give up. But there is a reason they call it a practice! Just like a yoga practice, every single day is unique and you never know what will surface when you take the time to practice.
The most important things are actually the simplest.
- Create a set time in your schedule. At first it is best to do it first thing in the morning when you wake up. You may want to splash some water on your face and brush your teeth to make sure you don’t fall back to sleep!
- Designate a set duration. When beginning a practice it can be hard to set aside part of your day to sit still. You may want to start with three minutes on the first day and set an alarm. See how that feels and try adding an additional minute every other day so by the end of the week you are sitting for six minutes.
- Find a special space in your home. Make a space that is quiet and clean. No clutter or visual distractions. You can create an altar of things that are special or have significant meaning to you. Make sure you have the proper seating arrangement that you can be comfortable sitting upright.
- Designate a focal point. You may want to keep your eyes open and stare at a candle flame. Other people choose to close their eyes and focus on the third eye if they are intellectual or the heart center if they are emotional. Try different methods to see what feels best.
- Focus on your breathing. Slowly begin to inhale through the nose taking slow deep breaths in and out. At first you can count your breaths in an effort to keep the mind from wandering.
This is a starting point. What you do with it from here is up to you. There are many benefits to meditation as simple as starting your day by taking a few minutes for yourself to preventing heart disease. If you have time for facebook you have time to meditate! Stop making excuses and start your practice today.
I had two purposes for spending the last two months at a yoga ashram. One was to do karma yoga (selfless service) and the second was to use my free time to focus on my business planning, blogs, social media, and all those lovely things. I definitely achieved my number one purpose and helped in the kitchen every day from 4:30am-11:45am. I really enjoyed helping out and the people I got to meet and work with along the way. I enjoyed the friends I was making so much that my free time was spent going to the gym, doing yoga, and hanging out with them on the beach or going on an adventure. No work was done, absolutely zero. So I started the Spiritual GPS blog before I got there thinking that I would be on top of it the whole time I was there with even more spiritual insight and instead lost it completely. I had a hint of guilt but at the same time knew I was doing what was in my best interest and following my own spiritual gps. Now I am at my new contract in Morocco and ready to get back in touch with the online world! I guess my only message here is make sure you listen to your own GPS and forget the “to-do” list. What do you need to feel good about yourself before your head hits the pillow tonight?
As I was walking down the beach yesterday I realized that I have found the secret to a happy life. Are you ready?! Just decide what you want and achieve it. Wow! Earth shattering news! Haha.
I have designed my life in such a way that I am happy so often that I can’t remember the last time I had a bad day. The only key I have figured out is that I decided what I want in life and I made it happen, there was no luck or secret formula or special circumstance – it was all purely making a decision. So tonight I was studying “The Sivananda Companion to Yoga” by Swami Vishnu Devananda and came across this verse:
“If you can bring your mind and thoughts under control, there is literally no limit to what you can do – since it is only our own illusions and preconceptions that hold us back and prevent us from fulfilling ourselves.”
He stated my “secret” in a much more profound way! It was just one of those serendipitous moments where life synced up and what I was just thinking a day before appeared in the book I was reading today. This brings us back to a common theme on The Spiritual GPS – what are your limiting beliefs? What are your illusions and preconceptions that are holding you back from the life of your dreams?
There are four different paths of yoga. Karma yoga, jnana yoga, raja yoga, and bhakti yoga are all different spiritual paths to help attain enlightenment. When the four paths are combined they call it “the yoga of synthesis”. While living at the ashram we do the yoga of synthesis but the main focus for most people is karma yoga.
Karma yoga is great for an active temperament and is purely translated to selfless service. Most people are here as volunteers looking to focus on their spiritual path and become more disciplined. The routine here is scheduled from 6am-10pm every day so it is wonderful for people that are not used to discipline. Having the ashram schedule ensures that you will go to at least one 2-hour yoga class a day with pranayama, asana, and guided relaxation, you will meditate and chant twice a day, attend at least two lectures, and volunteer. I am a true believer that there is magic in your daily routine and this ashram has it perfected in their own way.
Take a look at your daily schedule for the week. How can you integrate a set discipline that will help you accomplish more and get you closer to your own personal goals whether spiritual or otherwise? Schedule in your non-variables first. The time you have to go to work, meetings, and set obligations. Then see how you can schedule your more flexible items like meditating, working out, yoga, reading, etc. Try to find a set routine that helps you find the balance in life. Keep trying new methods until you find what works.
I got to the ashram in the Bahamas last night and it is quite the culture shock. Last week I was running a retreat in Nicaragua that was all about adventure and we had so much fun together and really created some special bonds. Now that I am in the ashram it may be a group environment and community but you can really feel that everyone is on their own path here and in their own little world.
So I thought today would be a good time to just reflect on your own social life and how it distracts you from your goals and personal development. I definitely think you need both and it is difficult to find the balance. I know I often find myself in one mode or the other. I am either focused only on helping others or I am focused on my own self development. I also definitely get distracted by not only social gatherings but social media. I catch myself going online to research something and ending up on facebook for way too long. Are you stuck in the daily grind of all your obligations? Do you give yourself any set quiet time to just be? I always say have a practice of “littleties”. Fifteen minutes of yoga a day is better than a one hour class a week. How can you create a practice of a little introversion and self reflection each day? Hopefully this blog will help!
The last “Trailblazers” post! I will be traveling from Nicaragua to the Bahamas this weekend so this should be something to reflect on today and tomorrow.
“May you risk. May you explore. May you leap even if there isn’t a net. May you shine.”
If you have been following the blog all week and taken some time to reflect on the different topics then you should have improved your self-esteem and belief in yourself. Now it is time to really apply it.
What do you want to accomplish? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be? It is time to take risks, explore, and enjoy the process. In the end everything always works out okay even if it doesn’t work out. Take the risk and trust that there is no wrong decision.
We are on part two of the manifesto today! Hopefully yesterday helped you strengthen your belief in yourself. This entire manifesto follows in that theme. Today we are going to focus on “May you rise to the challenge. And then rise again. May you be courageous.” It is pretty hard to be courageous if you don’t believe in yourself so hopefully yesterdays reflection time will help you with today.
Is there a challenge in your life you need to tackle? Tired of procrastinating? Maybe it is just something on your bucket list you have always wanted to do or maybe you want to move to a new place or quit your job or volunteer but there is something holding you back. Today is the day! Be courageous and rise to the challenge. Figure out what is holding you back, I have a feeling it is more mental than actual.
So many beliefs we have aren’t even true. Question what is holding you back. Imagine a complete stranger was telling you their story about this and how you would encourage them to take a step forward, talk to yourself the same way. Take massive action on one challenge in your life today. Approach it with an open mind, be curious, be hopeful, and make it happen.
This “prayer” has such a great message but I consider it more of a manifesto. This week we are going to break it down one part at a time and reflect on it daily. The first section I want to start with is “May you believe in yourself. May you play big. May you refuse to let anyone define you. May you see the need for you.”
These four things are a pretty big deal! “May you believe in yourself.” Do you believe in yourself? Do you think the world is your oyster and you can accomplish anything or have you put yourself into a small bubble and are limited in what you can do and who you can be? This goes hand in hand with “May you play big.” If you don’t believe in yourself there is no way you can play big. Is there something holding you back from taking a risk and going after what you truly desire?
“May you refuse to let anyone define you.” I think this also continues with the theme of believing in yourself. There is no need to believe anything other people say when you truly know and believe in yourself.
“May you see the need for you.” This is huge. Do you understand how special you are to the world? How can you contribute in a way that is uniquely you? What is the goodness that you bring to your own small world of friends and family and co-workers? And also what can you contribute to the entire world?
These four lines may say entirely different things but when it comes down to it they all come back to believing in yourself. Beliefs are extremely powerful guides in our life that can limit us or empower us but the funny thing about it is that our mind will believe anything we tell it to.
Reflect on these four questions today:
Are there any beliefs you have that are holding you back in realizing your own self worth?
Are you taking risks and living life how you want or is something holding you back?
Do you let other people’s opinions and judgments effect your own life choices?
Do you see the need for you? Make a list of what you have to offer.
This weekend you should focus on creating the largest list possible of everything you have to be grateful for. Start with the top five things that come easiest to you. Then as things become more difficult begin to think of each part of your daily life. What do you start your day with? Do you have a fancy piece of technology that acts as an alarm? What else does it do for you? What comes next? Do you have electricity? Hot water for a nice relaxing shower? A gym membership? A car? A job? A roof over your head? Think about your most basic needs. Think about your favorite things and the people you love. Take some time over the next couple of days and think of everything you have to be grateful for and all the things you love.