Oprah & Deepak’s 21 Day Meditation Experience

It’s time for another one of Deepak Chopra & Oprah’s 21 Day Meditation Experiences!

I have done two of their Meditation Experiences before and have loved them! You can sign up for free and each day, you will receive an email with a link to that day’s guided meditation. Oprah generally gives an intro into the day’s theme and Deepak guides you through the meditation, with his soothing voice and pearls of wisdom.

These 21 day experiences are a great way to establish a meditation practice and a great introduction to meditation, for those who may be intimidated by how to even get started. Each meditation is about 20 minutes long and can be done at anytime throughout the day.

I will be starting on November 3rd and would love if you joined me! You can sign up by clicking here.

I think it is such a beautiful thing to have beings meditating all around the world and raising the collective consciousness for love, peace and wisdom. Please let me know if you have any questions and I hope you joint me on the meditation cushion!

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Thoughts on “Expanding Your Happiness” Meditations

Last week, I finished The Chopra Meditation Center’s 21 day meditation experience, on expanding your happiness.

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These guided meditations were such a nice way to re-build my meditation practice, and begin to make it a habit, once again, each day.

Some of the meditations struck deeper chords with me than others, although they were all pretty poignant. I blogged about my thoughts on I Am Peace, here, but another topic that really got me to think was Living Kindness.

First off, Oprah started off the meditation with a quote from one of my ultimate inspirations, Dr. Maya Angelou, this instantly made me cry, because I have not even began to process the loss of Dr. Angelou. Her words have had such a profound effect and influence in my life and sparked a deep love of reading and writing. The quote is  “I have found that among it’s other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. When you learn, teach, when you get, give.”

This meditation definitely made me reflect on my own expressions (or lack thereof) of kindness. The work that I do as a counselor and yoga teacher, was inspired and motivated by kindness. I pursued these avenues because I wanted to help others and spread positivity. However, sometimes that all gets lost in day to day stress and exhaustion.

When I really thought about it, I realized that my work has been more motivated by achieving, production and quantity (rather than quality) of service. I have been more motivated to do more things at a faster pace, which leaves me feeling drained and irritable. This is a not a good state of being to help others.

I realized I need to get back in touch with that kindness that motivated me to pursue my career, in the first place. I hope to do more out of kindness, love and compassion. Maybe I will not get as much done, or maybe I will find I get just as much done, but I feel more energized by it, as opposed to drained.

This meditation experience was definitely a positive thing as I started this current school year. I plan to continue my own personal meditation practice each morning, to start my days off in a more focused frame of mind.

I cannot recommend Deepak Chopra’s meditations highly enough. He does these 21 day challenges every so often, and if you “like” The Chopra Meditation Center on Facebook, you can get updates on when the next one will take place.

Did anyone else complete The Expanding Your Happiness experience?

I Am Peace

I am participating in Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s 21 Day Meditation experience. I have done one of their 21 Day Meditation experiences before, a few months ago. They give beautiful guided meditations and it is a wonderful way to establish a consistent meditation practice. I was pretty good about meditating each day before work, last school year, but I fell out of my routine when summer hit. This meditation experience started on my first official day back at work and I thought it would be a great way to re-establish my routine.

The title of Day 3’s meditation was “I Am Peace.” It spoke about embodying peace itself. What I took from the meditation is learning to have inner peace in all situations, not just when life is easy, but even amongst the turbulent times.

I do not always do this. But, GAH,..oh how I want to.

This meditation resonated with me deeply, and I thought it about for a long time after and have sorted through some of those thoughts enough to form a (hopefully) coherent enough post.

At different points and phases in my life, it was important to me to be different things. When I was much younger, it was important for me to be perceived as pretty and funny. Then I wanted to be the academic, high achiever. Then I wanted to be the young professional, who was wise beyond her years. I guess I would be lying if I said a small part of me still does not still want those things, but I feel myself shifting to a different phase, where I really just want peace.

Chasing and wanting some of those other things did bring me academic and career success, however, the drive to keep achieving and conquering even bigger goals also brought me anxiety, pressure and chronic dissatisfaction. Although I did achieve my goals, sometimes I was not present or relaxed enough to enjoy those moments.

When life gets stressful (as it tends to do) my natural reaction is to let stress consume me, become tense in my neck and shoulders, put pressure on myself to quickly make things better and work harder and harder to try to avoid this type of stress again. It’s a losing cycle.

I have been working on being at peace, even in those stressful situations. I have been trying to not let myself become consumed by situations, but remain steady even through turbulent waters. I am not always successful, but have noticed vast improvements.

I have been thinking about this more and more when in the asana portion of my yoga practice. I had a yoga teacher once who cued one of my least favorite poses (i.e.-hated!), Boat Pose, Navasana, he said, “let this pose be less about the core and more about finding peace in a difficult situation.”

GAH! How do I find peace when my abs are shaking and my quads are quivering? How do I find peace when I am trying to keep my sternum lifted and my spine long, and all I want to do is collapse in a heap on my mat and sigh out like my bulldog does when she’s overwhelmed (this happens often)?

That has become my real work in this pose. As soon as it is cued in class, my mind gets frantic and my true work becomes calming myself down, even in the stressful situation.

I find myself using a similar line of teaching when I teach Chair Pose (Utkatasana). This actually happens to be one of my of my favorite poses, but I find this is one that most people really seem to get stressed about. I notice from the dirty looks I get when I cue this pose, that it causes that same type of tension for others, that I feel with Boat Pose. I try to teach this pose with this thought in my mind and remind my students to find their peace in it.

Yoga has given me the amazing gift to practice these concepts both on and off my mat. I will continually strive to become peace both on and off the mat. I know this is better my own health, and the world around me. How many of us don’t want world peace? I would love it if even just my own surrounding world were constantly peaceful. But, how can I expect something out of others, that I am not willing to work at myself?

The yoga pose images are from Yoga By Candace, my favorite yoga blog. Candace gives wonderful, practical and compassionate information about yoga. I highly recommend her site.

Meditation

One of the most important habits I picked up on my first round of the CSD was daily meditation.

I had never tried meditation before. In the past, I had a very hard time even just staying still, much less, trying to quiet my mind and be present with my thoughts.

The last 5 minutes of yoga in Savasana (corpse pose) was always my least favorite part of class. I rarely took the time to relax, I was usually going over what I was going to make for dinner, what I needed to do after class, what my weekend plans where, etc.

When I read the section on meditation, it sounded easy enough, but I did not think it was going to be for me, however, I was still willing to give it a shot. I had recognized within myself that being present in given moments was a struggle and I knew I wanted to start working on living in the moments I was in, as opposed to thinking about future plans or past mistakes.

On the first day, I woke up extra early to give myself time to ease into it. I sat on a pillow in my reading (now doubles as meditation) corner and started off with a simple mantra. I repeated to myself: May all beings (inhale) be happy and free (exhale). I did this for about 5 minutes till my mind felt clear and quiet. Then, I begin meditating on what I was thankful for. I named each things, as to truly acknowledge it’s presence and meaning in my life. I did this for about 10 minutes.

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The first few days, I kept checking the time on my phone and would come down on myself if I was not “doing it right.” I would become frustrated when other thoughts floated in my mind, this of course meant I was not “trying hard enough.”

The more I meditated, the easier it got. Time past much faster, I was surprised when the alarm I started setting on my phone rang, notifying me that 20 minutes already passed. I learned that there really is no wrong way to meditate. Some may be opposed to that statement, but for me, I found the benefit in being carving time out for myself in the day, and dealing with whatever came up in time where I had no other tasks, except to be present with my self (my spiritual, psychology, emotional and physical self).

I found that “clearing my mind” came so much easier when I was not trying to force other thoughts out. If things came up, I acknowledged their presence, I asked myself why this came up for me today and what did it mean? I may not have found the answer at that moment, but acknowledging it helped and it no longer occupied that space.

Being present with myself has been a great improvement in my life. Before, I would try to push away unpleasant feelings. I would try to stifle anxiety, anger, sadness, confusion, grief and worry. Those feelings cannot be eliminated by being ignored, I found that they always made their way out in another manner (usually a maladaptive one). Meditation has helped me be present even with undesirable feelings. Sometimes, I feel grief and I need to feel it, I need to acknowledge it’s presence and sit with it for awhile, even though it can be difficult.

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Even though it is only 15-30 minutes out of my day, I feel the effects for hours. It helps me go into the day with much better focus and clarity. I get the sense that I have already taken care of myself for the day, and now I am better equipped to meet challenges that may arise, without my own personal baggage holding me back. It already puts me at peace and helps me ease into my morning, instead of rushing out of bed and in to my morning routine.

I have found many helpful Guided Meditation practices on iTunes podcast and searching for “Guided Meditation” in YouTube. There was some very relaxing ones on YouTube to do before bed, I tried them a few times and would recommend them to anyone who has problems falling asleep. That is rarely an issue for me, and I much prefer to do my meditating in the morning, so I choose some of the Morning Meditations instead.

In the video below, Deepak Chopra gives a great overview on how to meditate. Sharon Gannon wrote the excerpt in Crazy Sexy Diet on meditation, I also read another of her books that was informative and helpful. I am very new to this journey, but already feel the benefits. If anyone has other suggested resources (books, podcasts, etc.) I would be thankful for the recommendation!