I’ve been nominated as 2014 “Best Personal Trainer” in Los Angeles by LA Hot List! Check out the link below to cast your vote:
Check out the shout out we received in the August issue of Focus Magazine on Newsstands now! Thanks Danielle for including us in “A Healthy Weekend in LA” 🙂
I recently completed a 6-week course in Mindfulness Meditation at the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center (MARC) at UCLA. As a yoga instructor, I know how important it is to be mindful, present and have a daily meditation practice, but as a human, I know how incredibly hard it is to stay present enough to be mindful or meditate! That being said, I wanted to share a bit of what I learned to hopefully inspire you to give Mindfulness and Meditation a place in your daily routine.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
First off, Mindfulness may be thought of as a state of consciousness, one characterized by attention to present experience with a stance of open curiosity, and it can be brought to any aspect of our lives. In fact, you can easily practice it instantaneously by just being aware of your present-moment experience anytime throughout the day. But as we all know our minds are busy, and they usually are in one place while our bodies are in another. The good news is our brains have a great capacity to change in both structure and function with experience, and Mindfulness practice is just like exercise for the brain. And as we all know, the more we practice something, the better we get at it!
HOW TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
When incorporating Mindfulness, you aren’t trying to change who you are, but just be more connected to your body, thoughts, and feelings and how they impact your daily life. In the process, you might realize there are habits or tendencies that invoke stress or suffering and find ways to acknowledge and hopefully change hurtful behaviors. Unfortunately, modern society encourages us to be mindless – busying ourselves with multi-tasking, speed, and efficiency. But when you are aware of the present moment in a kind and curious way, accepting it exactly as it is, then you have the direct experience of Mindfulness.
A fun exercise we did in class was “Mindfully” eat a raisin! If you think about it, how often do you actually slow down and taste each and every bite of food every time you eat? I know for me it was hardly ever! But when I actually felt the raisin, observed its texture, noticed my mouth salivating when it touched my lips, felt the burst of flavor as I bit into it and chewed, it was quite a new and interesting experience! When we take time to practice being fully present in a mundane, usually mindless task, we often notice new things such as reoccurring thoughts, feelings, and sensations. And sometimes they aren’t always positive ones!
So I encourage you to try being as present and mindful as you can while completing a task such as driving, walking, brushing your teeth, washing dishes, chatting with a friend, or eating. See how you feel, what sensations arise? Do you feel nervous? Bored? Stressed? Anxious? Whatever is going on, just observe, be curious, let go of judgment and be kind and accepting of your experience. Over time, practicing this type of Mindfulness will allow you to become more aware of the obstacles that keep you from changing your behavior (if it’s inhibiting). You’re better able to recognize when a trigger or tendency to behave in a hurtful or non-healthy way happens and choose alternatives to create change.
STARTING A MEDITATION PRACTICE
In addition to practicing Mindfulness throughout your day, I highly encourage a Meditation practice as well. I’ve been using several great apps that I’ve downloaded directly on my phone that have various guided meditations that can be used anytime, anywhere. (See below!) When I have 5 or 10 minutes in between clients, I just close my eyes in my car and get in my daily Meditation. Afterwards, I feel relaxed, calm, clear-minded and energized. Meditation can be especially helpful if you are feeling stressed, panicked, overwhelmed, depressed, angry, or fearful. When those feelings are occurring, we have usually lost touch with the present moment. But when we actually slow down, distance ourselves from the thoughts or stories we’ve created in our mind, we usually realize this particular moment is not as bad as we seem to think it is.
With Meditation, there can often be a sense of being overwhelmed or unsure of how to do it. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to meditate. Some days you feel very relaxed and it’s easy to clear your mind. Other days, not so much. But that’s part of the practice…taking the good with the bad and not judging or getting frustrated with yourself. I like to focus on my breath as an anchor and tool to bring me back to the present when thoughts start to arise. Some people like to use a color, mantra (word or phrase), or background noise. But just remember, you are trying to build a new skill, a new brain pattern, and resistance helps build and develop strength. The wandering, restless, fantasizing, thinking mind is the resistance, and the more you train yourself to return your attention to the present moment/breath, the “stronger” and more skilled you will become. So be patient and kind with yourself as it’s more about the journey versus the destination when it comes to meditating.
Here are some of my FAVORITE Meditation Programs:
Here are some of my FAVORITE Meditation Apps: