All posts filed under: Mind-Body

Essentials for a Daily Practice

By Sara Avant Stover // A daily practice doesn’t need to be strict and mechanical. Rather, it can feel supportive, like seeking the solace of a good friend. In this class, I share essentials of an effective, nourishing (and doable) daily practice. This is a potent time of year to rekindle our passion for our practice. Plus, the world is calling us to more—and that more isn’t possible without a solid foundation of a serious, daily practice. May this class inspire you to deepen your inner sight.           About the Author Sara Avant Stover is a yoga and meditation teacher, best-selling author of The Way of the Happy Woman, and The Book of SHE, and an inspirational leader to tens of thousands of women worldwide. The creator of The SHE School and the Women’s Yoga Teacher Training, Sara has been featured in Yoga Journal, the Huffington Post, and on ABC, NBC, and CBS. www.TheWayoftheHappyWoman.com

Your Posture is the Practice: An Interview with Hope Martin

By Debra Hiers // A great way of working with the body in meditation is the Alexander Technique, a process that enhances body awareness. This subtle yet powerful modality offers a way to be more relaxed and comfortable in your body by teaching you to recognize and let go of postural habits that cause discomfort and that distance you from being fully present in your life. It is communicated through a teacher’s verbal and gentle hands-on guidance, but ultimately teaches you how to be your own teacher and apply the principles for yourself. Hope Martin began taking Alexander Technique lessons in 1980, and completed a three-year training program in 1987. Shortly after that she participated in a month-long meditation intensive and found that even with her extensive Alexander training, she still had “a lot of trouble sitting, a lot of burning in [her] back, a lot of pain and discomfort.” She knew from her own experience the obstacles people encounter sitting on a cushion or chair for extended periods of time. “When you’re sitting, and all …

The Power of Wisdom and Compassion

By Michelle Becker // I’ve noticed that when life gets really difficult – whether due to a natural disaster like the recent, devastating hurricanes and earthquakes, or due to more personal issues like the health crisis of a loved one or difficulty in our interpersonal relationships – We, humans, often react by going to extremes. On one end of the spectrum, we can fall into despair, becoming overwhelmed with pain and grief, unable to be present with things as they are. On the other end of the spectrum, we can bury our heads in the sand and push away any awareness of the suffering around us. Maybe we spend every waking hour at work, fixated on a project, or we drink or eat a little too much, or binge watch our favorite shows. Either extreme keeps us from being present with things as they are, just in different ways. And why would we even want to stay present in difficult circumstances? Because being present with things as they are doesn’t trigger the added layer of …

Hands of Hope: The Possibility of Bodily Ease in Sitting Meditation

A few years ago, my experience of sitting on my meditation cushion was changed in a dramatic, simple, and sustained way, when Hope Martin placed her hands on my spine for just a few minutes. Over the past three decades, countless students have had similar experiences, as she has gained a reputation for being a profoundly sensitive, intuitive body-worker as well as a gentle and brilliant meditation teacher. As she says, what she offers is highly experiential. In that space with her, a shift occurred: emotionally, in the body, in the mind. It was profound. I flash on that experience just about every time I sit to meditate, and the body, remembering Hope’s hands, relaxes into a dignified posture. The experience is elusive, and better to be experienced personally than described. But, hearing Hope speak about her work, along with some clips of a recent session I had with her (lucky me!), may bring it to life a bit more. Please enjoy this short video, and may the hands of Hope be with you. Shambhala …

Finding the Voice of Self-Compassion

By Michelle Becker // In first grade I had a really mean teacher.  Several decades later, I can still feel the hot sting of humiliation as she stopped the class so they could watch me clean out my desk.  Clearly it wasn’t up to her standards. I was already painfully shy as a girl and this was a particularly cruel punishment to dole out in my case.  I got through that year, but it didn’t leave me any more organized, less shy or more confident about school. The best thing I can say about that year is that I survived.  I really don’t think I learned much. Luckily in third grade I had a remarkable teacher, Ms. Foust.  This was the 60’s and she was oh so kind and cool. My mom called her a hippie.  She lived on a sailboat and played her guitar for us. We sang all the hits of the day as she strummed on her guitar.  I began to feel safe and seen. I began to relax. We did art. …

The Practice of Dropping: An Antidote for a Busy Life

By Brian Spielmann & De West // When we’re babies, the ability to grasp, which becomes fully developed around 9-12 months, is one of the most important developmental milestones. This core skill demonstrates planning, hand-eye coordination, muscular strength, and motor skills. As adult spiritual practitioners, we have the opposite issue: how do we stop grasping and let go? Our minds are constantly grasping and fixating, creating much suffering in our minds and tension in our bodies. As Mick Jagger says, “You can’t always get what you want.” And that grasping is where samsara begins. The Buddhist and Yogic traditions both offer clear, practical instructions on how to let go fully. When we integrate these traditions, working both with our body and our mental awareness, we have a powerful dual pathway to further relaxation and sense of peace. Take a Load Off The good news is that our thoughts and emotional baggage don’t actually exist. They come and they go, and we can let them arise with no judgment or need to push them away. We …

Mindful Eating

[Video] You Can Heal Your Broken Relationship with Food

By Marcella Friel // If you are a woman who struggles with food, have you ever wondered why your restrictive diet regimens routinely leave you worse off than when you started? There’s a core piece of the healing puzzle that those diet plans never touch. *** In this video, food and body image coach Marcella Friel shares with Mimi Valiulis, Dean of Online Studies at Shambhala Online, success stories of women who went way beyond the dieting trap to liberate their food patterns once and for all. Join Marcella Friel at SMC: From Emotional Eating to Emotional Freedom: Liberate Unwise Food Choices with EFT Tapping, October 30–November 3 // Click here to learn more >>   About the Author Marcella Friel is a mindful eating mentor who helps health-conscious women love and forgive themselves, their food, and their figure. She is the author of two best-selling courses on DailyOM and of the book Tap, Taste, Heal: Use Emotional Freedom Techniques to Eat Joyfully and Love Your Body. Marcella’s writing appears in Elephant Journal and elsewhere. …

Love and Heal Your Inner Child

By Blake D. Bauer // In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play. — Friedrich Nietzsche The term ‘wounded inner child’ typically refers to the emotional pain experienced during childhood that currently remains unhealed within us. The reason it’s optimal to address this topic is because our psychological and emotional wounds from childhood are directly connected to the situations and relationships that are currently full of victimhood and blame. In order to love and heal ourselves fully, we subconsciously create experiences in the present that mirror experiences from our past, often from childhood, so we can (1) transform the associated pain that is still stored within us and (2) learn the important lessons necessary to fulfill our life’s purpose and awaken spiritually. If we have not fully healed a past experience or period that was painful or confusing, then we will instinctually create situations in the present that reflect back to us the unresolved emotions from the original incident(s), ultimately so we can make peace with our past, care for ourselves …

Healing Sound

Healing Secrets of Sound

By Christine Stevens // The roar of joy that set the worlds in motion Is reverberating in your heart —Radiance Sutras, Dr. Lorin Roche We are all wired for rhythm by our circadian sleep and wake cycle, our brain waves, our cardiac beats, and even our neural firings. This is our personal music medicine. So many people have been told they have no musical ability. They believe they can’t ‘hold a tune in a bucket’ or keep a beat. But the truth is we are the music. I call it “homo musicalis”. The healing power of music is not just a fluffy concept; it is based on both historical and research-based evidence. One of the fathers of music therapy, psychologist and music therapist Dr. Mark Rider, known for coupling musical experiences with active visualization for pain reduction, writes about the power of group sing-alongs to treat trauma responses for veterans. In fact, group drumming has been shown to directly activate the immune system and calm stress responses. A 2001 study published in the journal Alternative …

The Beauty of Pristine Mind

By Orgyen Chöwang // At its core, our mind is pristine. Pristine Mind is a beautiful, naturally vibrant state, brimming with life, self-sustaining in its capacity to provide a dependable, inexhaustible source of happiness and joy. Sadly, most of us do not realize the true nature of our mind. We have become disconnected from it. Pristine Mind becomes obscured by the mind’s misperceptions and inner experiences—thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and judgments—that pollute its true nature. As a result, we live in a mind that leaves us insecure, alternating between times of happiness and sadness. This robs us of the ultimate experience of life, deeply connected and aware of this pristine state of mind. In Pristine Mind we are not detached or withdrawn from the world. We do not need to reject worldly pleasures. In Pristine Mind we are far more present to the world than we have ever been before. We experience life’s pleasures more robustly, work more effectively, and, above all, love more richly and more universally. Living in this way does not leave us …