Mindfulness & Meditation
Mindfulness || a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. ‘By definition, mindfulness moves us away from our personal narrative about how our life should be and into how life actually is, moment by moment.‘ – Danny Arguetty
The Practice || choosing to be fully present at any given time or completely focused on one task.
Meditation || is the seventh limb of the eight limbs of yoga as defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, also referred to as dhyana. ‘The first six limbs support the practice of meditation in strengthening our outer and inner container, freeing up the body from tension, awakening the breath, moving inwards, and cultivating concentration. In the Tantric view, meditation is first and foremost done to savor the gift of embodiment, to taste the sweetness of simply being…The second reason is Vimarsha Shakti or our ability for reflection, witness, and awareness.’ – Katie Brauer and Danny Arguetty, Y6.
The practice || taking time to sit with yourself and your thoughts.
Lorin Roche on Meditation
- Meditation should never require any more effort than reading your favorite book or listening to your favorite music.
- What’s stillness got to do with it? Move all you want in meditation. You only sit still in meditation to better follow the movement of life. It is a natural repose, not something forced.
- Do I have to make my mind blank? No, nor do you have to ’empty your mind.’ This is a myth. There are moments of inner quiet, but thinking is a major part of meditation. You ride thoughts like surfers ride waves. The more you accept all thoughts, the more inner repose you will get.
The 8 Week Challenge
The 8 week challenge is designed to explore and play with some of the different types of mindfulness and meditation practices to discover if any resinate with you. If any do, it is my hope you will decide to keep them around in your life for your overall well-being.
Why 8 weeks? In just 8 weeks a simple mindfulness and/or meditation practice has shown to have a significant impact on the body, mind, and spirit. Physiologically, it has been documented that mindfulness and meditation actually change the shape of our brain and how it functions. By increasing the mass in the prefrontal cortex, an area just behind our foreheads responsible for functions such as rational thinking and balancing emotions, it improves our ability to problem solve. It also decreases the amygdala, the reptilian part of our brain that fires the flight or fight response, which shifts how we respond to daily outside stress. It also has the ability to change our gene expression by increasing the production of anti-inflammatory genes. And so much more!
Each day of the week is designated to one particular practice. They build on each other but you don’t have to do them in any specific order. The goal is to set 5-10 minutes a day for 8 weeks to practice self-awareness, reflection and to notice the impact. Follow along on instagram @yogawithilona, join the community and share your journey with #radandblissful. Ready?
M O N D A Y
We begin the week with walking meditation.
Find a space in you day, it might be a walk outside for lunch, before work, or just after you get home. Commit to it, write it in your calendar. No need to get fancy, a simple walk around the block will suffice.
What constitutes a walking meditation? As you step outside engage the outdoors with your senses. Pay attention to your surroundings by taking in all the sights, smells, sounds, and sensations. Notice what happens.
T U E S D AY
Eat with Intention.
For me, eating with intention means slowing down, assessing what it is that my body needs to nourish and fuel it at that given moment, making a conscious effort to enjoy preparing the meal, and finally remembering to chew my food.
Another good place to start is to simply offer up gratitude for your plate of food. As you enjoy each bite, acknowledge the different components it took to get the meal on your plate and offer up thanks.
W E D N E S D A Y
Familiarize yourself with this ancient circular symbol. With a beginners mind learn the basics and build from there. Allow yourself to get lost in the mesmerizing trance of drawing a mandala. Remembering that it’s a practice.
‘The mandala is an archetypal image whose occurrence is attested throughout the ages. It signifies the wholeness of the Self. This circular image represents the wholeness of the psychic ground ‘ – Carl Jung
T H U R S D A Y
Color to your hearts delight.
Color your mandala. Color in your adult coloring book. Notice how much pressure or not you apply when coloring. Does it take effort or is this practice enjoyable? Does it seem dumb and a waste of time or are you able to bring your thoughts to the present moment and find joy in this simple act of coloring.
Coloring is sometimes referred to as an ‘Anti-Stress Art Therapy for Busy People’. How do you feel after a session?
F R I D A Y
A repetition of sacred sound or words out loud, internally, and/or using a mala bead or mudra, a hand gesture, to help count.
I will introduce some of my favorites each Friday so you can follow along. Some of the mantras will be in the ancient language of Sanskrit. Others are free for you to adapt as you see fit. For instance, this mantra “Peace begins with me.” Can be transformed into “Love begins with me.” And so on.
S A T U R D A Y
Candle Light Meditation.
I really dig this meditation practice because of the possible pleasant aroma. I often get naturally scented candles.
This is a seated meditation. If your on the ground, get comfortable either on your chins or in a cross-legged position. Take off your shoes and feel the earth underneath you if you opt to sit in a chair.
Light the candle and watch the flame as you inhale deeply and exhale completely.
S U N D A Y
Ideally all the mindful practices during the week will serve as preludes to your seated mediation. I encourage you to start with two and a half minutes. Each Sunday add another two and a half minutes. Totaling in 20 minutes on the last day of our challenge.
Simply find a comfortable seat, watch your breath, deepen it if you choose. When your thoughts pop up, become aware of them, then kindly but firmly redirect your attention to the space between your in and out breath, over and over again. Reap the benefits of this magnificent practice.
Remember || This is your practice, you make the rules. I simply provide fun guidelines or sign posts along the way which you may consider exploring further. If you gravitate to a particular style of meditation or mindfulness practice go for it. If by the end of one week you prefer some practices to others, once again satisfy your soul. Main purpose of this challenge is to explore. And who knows, it just might launch your unique daily mindfulness and meditation practice.
If you should find yourself in any need of support or with any questions feel free to reach out to me, I will gladly be there for you in any way that I can – Ilona