Friday, February 14, 2014


"In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you."  ~Buddha

Metta meditation is the mindful practice and cultivation of lovingkindness. This meditation uses words, images, and feelings to evoke lovingkindness and friendliness toward yourself and others. With each recitation of the phrases, we are expressing an intention, planting the seeds of loving wishes over and over in your heart. With a loving heart as the background, all that we attempt, all that we encounter will open and flow more easily. You can begin the practice of lovingkindness by sitting comfortably in a quiet place. Let your body rest and be relaxed. Let your heart be soft. Let go of any plans or preoccupations.

Begin with yourself. Breathe gently, and recite inwardly the following traditional phrases directed toward our own well-being. You begin with yourself because without loving yourself it is almost impossible to love others.

May I be filled with lovingkindness.

May I be peaceful and at ease.

May I be safe and healthy in body and mind.

May I be happy. 

After this you can include others: Spend some time wishing well to a wider circle of family and friends.
Then gradually extend your meditation to include your community, neighbors, people everywhere, animals, all living beings on earth, the whole universe.

Finally, include the difficult people in your life, even your enemies, wishing that they too may be filled with lovingkindness and peace. This will take patience and practice. But as your heart opens, first to loved ones and friends, you will find that in the end you won't want to close it anymore.

Lovingkindness can be practiced anywhere. You can use this meditation while traveling, in traffic, standing in lines, during any activity of daily life where your mind is free, whenever there is a pause, choose lovingkindness. As you silently practice this meditation among people, you will come to feel a wonderful connection with them ~ this is the power of lovingkindness. It will calm your mind and keep you connected to your heart.

May we all be filled with lovingkindness.

May we all be peaceful and at ease.

May we all be safe and healthy in body and mind.

May we all be happy.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Let It Be

"When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom, Let it be. And in my hour of darkness, she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, Let it be."

Recently, I enjoyed a 3 hour Yin Yoga workshop hosted by the yoga community in which I teach. Yin Yoga is a quiet practice that focuses on the internal energy that arises while holding yoga postures for a specified period of time. The poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues, tendons, fascia and ligaments with the goal being to increase circulation of synovial fluid within the joint, and improve flexibility. It is a wonderful complementary practice in an effort to strengthen the internal body for more intermediate exercise that moves at a faster pace, consistent with yang energy. On a deeper level, yin yoga postures help to improve the flow of qi (chee) or energy that may be stagnant or deficient within the body. Subsequently, organ health, immunity and emotional well-being are affected in a positive way. The title of the workshop was ~The Art of Equanimity~ maintaining an even, balanced mind in the face of stress, chaos, or crisis. Equanimity is one of the four sublime attitudes in Buddhist philosophy. With loving kindness, compassion, and sympathetic joy as the other three pathways to awakening.

3 hours can be a long time, for me it went quickly, connecting with breath and enjoying the physical sensations intensify. The joy in the process of this style of yoga is acknowledging the subtle changes that occur. Just when you think you can't endure holding a shape any longer, you breathe deeper, the mind shifts and you are refocused, enjoying a different view of the situation. The power of the mind and body is amazing. In teaching yoga, I emphasize the awareness of breath, alignment of the body and an awake quality of the mind. A balanced yoga practice, focuses on the inhale followed by the exhale, combining it with movement that assists and opens joints, strengthens and lengthens the skeletal and muscular body, while creating a sense of peace, lightness and ease in the heart and mind.

I have been a critical care nurse for 15 years, working with families and patients during times of crisis. My understanding of coping with mental and physical stress is sharing and gathering resources, knowledge, compassion, empathy and patience. The power of equanimity has been a friend, a light in a dark hour, witnessing pain and sadness, enduring stress and challenge is a part of life but there must be a balance to stay alive. We have to wrap our arms around each other for support and love. We must make mistakes to learn and laugh at ourselves. Working in healthcare and studying yoga and mindfulness, I have come to the realization that every hour, every minute, every second, every breath is new. Constant change exists moment to moment and I am living this moment now. My challenge in life is not my professional work, studying for a test, speaking in public or holding a yoga pose for 5-10 minutes, it is the gift of raising children, they are my greatest teachers, helping me to find true self. When I am able to pause for a moment and reflect, and all my jumbled thoughts collect. Alone in my room, I clearly see the good and the bad that is really me.

Being a mother of young children may not offer me much time to have a sitting meditation practice, a peaceful night's sleep, a hot shower, or any time alone. But it does offer a moment to moment approach of acknowledging the provoking self driven needs of a toddler and preschooler. My boys are in constant survival mode, working with sensation and emotion that sends direct signals to their bellies or brains. I have never known dual emotions such as frustration, anger, irritation and a love so full, boundless and protective in one swift second. I can respond with love and understanding or I can scream, sob, and show my fierce inability to hold my emotions together. In the short 5 years of motherhood, I have experienced both sides of reaction. Driven by loving kindness, compassion and joy, staying focused and composed in the tornado of boys circling around me morning, noon and night is my meditation.

My words do not speak my truth, my actions do. How do we react to the everyday or stressful situation? How do we stay calm in the storm of emotions that build up and don't release? My feelings can sometimes be confused and tight, filled with uncertainty and fear. Other times I am confident and feel whole, solid and exacting. Life is an unknown series of events that presents an impact on body, mind and spirit. You have a choice on how you are going to respond to what the world offers you. You can let something or someone dictate the way you react to things. But, if you look within yourself, you realize you have the power to make things happen.  Life experiences, positive and negative, are tools that better assist us in our present situation. It is essential to understand that everything is not under our control, there are things in our life we can direct in a certain way but the outcome remains unknown until it happens.

My husband is always reminding me to lower my expectations in life and maintain basic requirements for a situation requiring discipline or safety. Dinner tonight with my boys was a difficult situation. My husband and I tried to talk to each other, food was flying onto the floor, I could analyze why the screaming, whining and inconsolable crying was occurring or I could just roll with it. Naps were needed but not taken, the food was not eaten or liked, listening and communication was non- existent. My oldest son, who was trying to be good and eat his meal without complaint, said "Mom, you need to go easier on yourself, just let it be."