Here’s a quick word problem for you. If most of us are taking in over 34 gigabytes of pulse-raising information a day and we feel wired to check our email or Facebook before we have time to set our own priorities for the day, when do we hear ourselves think? Make time to sit and reflect? Meditate?
Forget it. We’re too busy!
But I have another question. What if the act of meditating, which business leaders like Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, report doing regularly, gave us more time to do what we care about most? In a way that made our life more satisfying–and our business more effective?
Today’s muse, Laurie Goldstein, creator of Root and Bloom, has developed an in-between-the-cracks (through email and Facebook) support system to bring people back home to themselves when they are swimming in distracting, possibly upsetting and/ or pressure-cooked oceans–through the ancient practice of meditation.
A long time practitioner of yoga and meditation who has been guiding individuals and groups in homes, studios and corporations in the New York City area for 20 years, Laurie’s weekly posts and the community she has built to support her growing following– are all framed around ancient insights combined with her expertise in the wellness industry.
I asked Laurie three questions to start the week with focus, care and a deep breath.
How does meditation resemble roots with which we can develop more inner resilience? How have you seen the practice taken root and change people’s lives over time, both professionally and personally?
Whether dealing with an unexpected job loss or move, deadlines or other potential sources of anxiety- I’ve seen how much a consistent meditation practice can make a difference. I had a client who began to experience panic attacks before giving presentations at work. She shared that the breath work she practiced during meditation began to make its way into her day- in particular in a bathroom stall just before pitches. It helped. As she practiced over time, she was able to peel back the layers of what was triggering these attacks and eventually wound up leaving her job for work she found more meaningful. She credited meditation with giving her the headspace to do so.
So, meditation is the radically transformational practice of showing up fully- breath by breath, moment by moment- exactly where we are. There is something that happens, that shifts, when we do so. When we send our roots down and come home to the center of ourselves with consistency- it provides a kind of nourishment and stability that we can’t find out there.
So too there is a spaciousness of heart that is created with consistent practice. I saw it provide solace, sanctuary and some semblance of solid ground for a woman walking through treatment for lymphoma and making peace with her own passing. I know a woman who healed her heart by continuing to show up for herself day after day on the other side of a miscarriage. Time and time again, I hear stories of acceptance and forgiveness being found, deeper wells of patience in relationships being forged in the space a steadfast practice creates.
As we send roots down and out, we sense that we are held by a force that is of us and greater than us and are reminded that we are also here to do the holding- for ourselves and each other. Nearly universally, I find folks soften and become more kind and compassionate and empathetic over time.
The benefits of cultivating a calm mind seem so key to both business and creative satisfaction where we can choose our focus. Is there one specific practice you can share that might help people focus during a stressful time?
Returning to the breath is essential on so many levels. Doing so brings the mind home and helps restore a sense of ease to the nervous system. Perhaps thinking and feeling, as Thich Nhat Hanh suggests, Here as you inhale and Now as you exhale or Just this as you inhale and Breath as you exhale. This simple act of gathering ourselves is essential and so beneficial. It brings clarity, focus and ease- it helps the muck settle.
But to me this question points to something bigger. Can we allow ourselves to be guided by the voice that emerges from the still center of our being… and in so doing, create less stress for ourselves to begin with? Can we find and allow ourselves to move in the direction of the feeling tone of Yes. The first time I went to a workshop with the incomparable Erich Schiffmann he had this scrawled on a board and suggested we make this offering every morning on waking:
“Today I will make no decisions by myself.
I will make no decisions by myself because it is no longer intelligent to do so.
Instead, I will make all my decisions in silent counsel with the Infinite.
I want to do what You would have me do.
What would You have me do?”
He proceeded to share that we each have access to an inner intelligence that is of us and greater than us…. Unfortunately, many of us fail to check in with it until there’s a major life decision to be made. So it becomes hard to parse out which voice it is and harder still to have the courage to follow where it guides. To remedy this he suggested playing with the following simple practice of taking ourselves off of auto pilot – out of the smaller mind and into the bigger mind. It’s the insertion of a deliberate pause with simple little decisions that have little consequence in your life. So for example, you go to the grocery store. You walk in and you stand in front of the fruit and you pause. You inquire do I want the honey crisp apples today or the motsu apples and you PAUSE… and wait to hear a response. If you get no response you move on. Ok, do I want a mandarin instead of an apple? PAUSE. You might wind up with papayas. The voice will grow stronger, as will your willingness to honor as it guides you. And when it comes time for those major life decision, the voice will ring through with a quality that you’ll know by heart.
Meditation sharpens our memories and increases our capacity to learn. Can you talk about how you have experienced some of the physiological benefits of meditation? And witnessed them in others?
I notice in myself and in others the ability to more fully and consciously inhabit our bodies and the space of relationships we share. After a few months of practice, I had a student reach out to me saying that she was beginning to notice times when her breath would become shallow or erratic. Her jaw would clench and she’d find herself gripping her hand into a fist. This led to a questioning of why and a cue to soften, which led her to more insights and greater ease.
I am able to settle more fully into the space between trigger and reaction to more consciously choose how I respond to situations. I notice more things to feel grateful for. I feel more at home and at ease in my skin. I sleep better. And I’m not alone. All of these are things are just some of the fruits of the practice.
laurieG is a lover of life, a mama, a partner and a convener of sacred spaces for reflection, transformation and healing. In the Autumn of 2017, she launched her heart project, Root & Bloom. Through it, she offers guidance, tools & resources for those looking to develop a home practice of meditation and self study. Participants receive guided meditations, mantras and self study prompts for contemplation and transformation on the weekly. Life style and life cycle advices drawing from ayurvedic wisdom, yoga philosophy and buddhist teachings and monthly full and new moon reflections and insights are also provided.
It’s not too late to join in the journey through Autumn, find details through the link below or email laurieG at email@example.com
Details ::: http://ittakesanopenheart.com/root-bloom/
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What people are saying about Root and Bloom:
“Absolute game changer…”
“I feel like a kid Christmas morning every week, waiting for your message to come… and the content never disappoints. Each week I find myself changed by what you’ve shared. It’s like you’re writing exactly what I need to read, exactly when I’m meant to read it and I am thankful.”
“Authentic, down to earth and life changing. After years of trying and failing, with your help, I am now meditating consistently- and I actually look forward to sitting. Your gentle voice, the wisdom you share and this whole experience have changed me. I can’t thank you enough.”