Monday, April 26, 2010

Upon Awakening

Last week I posted about a rough morning. You know, one of those days where it feels like a real challenge to peel yourself out of bed to face the day. I had another tough morning on Saturday. I had been overseeing the Bastyr Film Festival the night before, so I hadn't gotten much sleep. Of course I was signed up for a weekend class (what was I thinking?!?) so I was attempting to wrench myself from the covers on Saturday morning for yet another day on the Bastyr campus. Fortunately, the class was "Meditation & Medicine" taught by Joel and Michelle Levey. Wow! Sitting in their class was truly eye-opening. They gave us some great insight and wisdom, including how to start your day!

I tried this meditation, and set the intention to be present for the day. Boy did it work! My whole outlook on the day has changed. As soon as you wake up, before you move or get out of bed, they instruct you to wiggle your toes and set an intention. What a great way to re-frame the day. Instead of dreading getting out of bed, I felt gratitude that I was healthy and able to move. I left the meditation sessions feeling light as a feather. Of course, now that Monday has rolled around I'm feeling challenged to stay true to my intention, especially since I'm behind on my schoolwork after spending all weekend blissed out! But I'm practicing, and I hope that sharing this meditation will help you make more of your mornings enjoyable instead of arduous.

Morning Meditation-Joel and Michelle Levey
In the first moment that you are Awake,
Reach up and touch your heart (or wiggle your toes!)
Be mindful of the flow of your breath
Flowing In... Flowing Out....
Be mindful of your heart beating
Be mindful of your hand touching our heart

Within this flow of mindful presence
Listen deeply into what your heart's deepest wish,
prayer or aspiration is for this precious day and
Clarify this intention...
Dedicate yourself to "living on purpose" and staying true to
your deepest intention for this day
and carry this intention into action
as you go about the flow of moments and actions of this day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Exactly how you should not start a morning

As the morning light drifts into my bedroom, I wake up hesitantly. The pillow is cushioning my head and the comforter is heavy on my skin. This is my armor. The day looms before me, a shadow of an angry storm cloud bearing down over innocent hikers on a mountainside.

Thinking of all the work to done, emails to check, cars to drive in circles, etc. My bare feet tread the hallway carpet, shuffling and dragging towards the bathroom. For once, I wish that I'd awaken happily and jump out of bed eager to face the day, but it seldom happens that way. My silent journey continues from the bathroom to the kitchen. I gather the empty glasses from the table and they clink together merrily. The rush of running faucet water interrupts my thoughts for a moment, then I silence the stream to heighten my senses again. I love the stillness of the morning. Nothing is yet trembling under the weight of the day. In the stillness there is time for reflection.  This time of reflection is the perfect time for meditation, and yet I don't know how to meditate.

At six-thirty yesterday morning I attended a meditation/yoga class. I'm reasonably sure that I didn't meditate, but then again maybe I did. Most of the class was spent in yoga poses, and I struggled to breathe "correctly" even though the instructor didn't say anything about how to breathe. She didn't say that I was breathing incorrectly, but I felt that I was breathing wrong.  How is it possible to breathe incorrectly? Apparently most of us are inept at even breathing on a daily basis, according to the internet and my psychology professor. The instructor of this class approached me after the session and told me that I'd done very well, but I didn't really believe her and muttered a brief thanks without making eye contact. Then I rushed off to my car, as I was already late for my class--nearly 15 miles away in Kenmore.

So I've enrolled in a class for this weekend which promises to:

"provide an introduction to the five categories of meditation, including theory and practice of each. Faculty will present an overview of research regarding the clinical efficacy of meditation. Implications and practical clinical applications of meditation will be considered as well as the neurobiology of ordinary and extraordinary health. The course will also include a survey of interesting topics/readings regarding neuroplasticity, mindfulness and mastery of attention, neural development and executive cognitive functions, and complementary styles of meditation."

 I realize that the class will start tomorrow. I feel intimidated and already behind in my work. The assigned reading has sat on my coffee table for days now as I delicately avoid even looking at it.  I love to try new things and challenge myself. But somewhere along the way I get discouraged before I even begin. I desperately want to meditate, to quiet the inner voices that squak at me from the moment I wake up in the morning to the last breathe of cool night air. All day these voices pick at me and ask annoying questions like, "Why didn't you finish that yesterday?!" and "How are you going to make it through the day without taking a nap?" I'm looking for a solution to my everyday fears and habits.

Tomorrow evening I will start that journey, and of course I won't even start out on the right foot. I have seven million other things to do, seeing as how I'm also running a "Film Festival" (with hopefully several hundred people attending) tomorrow night at exactly the same time as my class.  How much more distraction will it take before I become incompetent at everything instead of good at multiple things. Well, tomorrow will be the test.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


After a six month hiatus, Nourish and Grow is relaunching! Please join me as I discuss the connections between meditation, nutrition, and how to make changes in your life to promote and sustain emotional and physical well being. This blog is a spot where you can come to nourish your soul and facilitate inner growth along the way.