Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

Practicing mindful existing.

Watching from the second-floor window of the doctor’s office where I waited for my doctor to come in and see me on Thursday, I noticed a cat wandering around the grounds below. I first saw the cat by the bushes, where it unsuccessfully stalked a group of pigeons. It then walked closer to the entrance of the medical center, where other people noticed it and tried to coax it to come to them (being a true cat, it didn’t).

The sky was a bright blue that began to fade as the afternoon went on. I looked at the details on the nearest palm tree, the patterns on its tall trunk.

I also noticed details inside the room as well, such as the new technology of a tablet-like device on the wall that flashed images and different offerings: from an anatomy library to contact information about support groups. I didn’t go up to it to investigate further, but it still caught my attention every so often.

Sitting on the exam table, I practiced several of the Nia moves with hands and fingers: finger flicks, creepy crawlers, finger extensions.

By knowing roughly the time I got in there and the time I left, I could estimate how long I was in there. But during the time I was waiting, I didn’t look at my phone. I didn’t know what time it was or how long it had been.

In the past, I might have allowed myself to space out while waiting in a doctor’s office. I would drift off, allowing my thoughts to wander from this to that. Ultimately, I would detach from my own experience. That no longer feels like an appealing option, especially since it can mean that I might feel out of my body during the actual appointment, which doesn’t improve the overall experience or how I feel afterwards.

During my time in that office, I was practicing mindful observing and existing. I could have grabbed my phone or my iPad from my purse and given myself something else to do, but I didn’t. It wasn’t about impatiently waiting for the doctor or thinking about what I would do once I got home. I gave myself quality quiet time just to exist.

It’s often hard for me to carve out time like this, as there are often things to do at home, and I often go places with the specific intention to actively do something. But perhaps I can find more opportunities like this and create the space to just be.

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Yoga and the Down Dog app

I first found out about the Down Dog yoga app through Terre Pruitt, Nia and yoga teacher, on her blog. Now, I want to give my own personal recommendation for it.

First, I want to share about my yoga background:

I am the daughter of a yoga teacher. My dad has studied yoga since college (1970s), and when I was six months old, we moved to the Bay Area so he could study and get certified to be an Iyengar Yoga teacher. There are pictures of me as a toddler where it looks like I am holding my dad in a shoulder stand. I say “looks like” because, as my dad tells me, he had to put extra effort to staying up in the pose because I was pushing slightly.

yoga-baby

It’s a photo of a photo, but enough to give you an idea.

Since my dad was a yoga teacher, I was resistant to the practice for awhile, unless something hurt and a yoga pose could help it. I took my first yoga class in college and loved it, and sometimes did sun salutations in the early mornings in a study room in my dorm. When I was 26, when I realized that I needed to do something regularly for stress relief. The first week, I got up early each morning and did 15 minutes of yoga, and after a few days, I noticed my anxiety levels had decreased significantly. So I started practicing yoga regularly in the mornings. I took a class about once a week, and took more as I found more yoga teachers and studios I liked.

I continued this pattern until I came back to my hometown, where I dropped my early morning practice. Why? I was depressed, it was hard to get up in the morning, and I didn’t know how much it was helping in my current state. I did get back into the habit of taking classes 2-3 times a week for awhile. Then, Nia took center stage in my movement routine: I liked yoga and its affect on me, but I loved Nia. I went down to taking one yoga class a week, and then when that series of classes ended, I stopped. I missed my regular practice, though.

I learned about the Down Dog app just over a month before my wedding. I wanted to do something in the 30-day lead up to my wedding, and I knew I wanted yoga to be part of it. Also, I knew that it would help my stress level amidst all the busyness. Finding the app was a great solution.

What I like about it:

  1. It allows me to practice yoga without having to create my own practice, and it provides a different sequence every time.
  2. I can choose both the amount of time and type of practice – whether restorative, beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
  3. I sometimes lose patience with yoga videos. I like how the Down Dog app shows photographs of someone doing poses, so I can look at the screen at need, but I’m not dependent on concentrating on the screen in order to see what the instructor is doing.
  4.  The instructor gives great cues and her voice is soothing.
  5. It’s convenient – I can decide to do yoga any time as long as I have my iPad or iPhone and a place to practice. Also, the basic version is free and the member’s version is inexpensive.

The week before my wedding, I did a trial of Down Dog’s membership. The paid membership adds more choices: the ability to choose the pace of a practice as well as an expanded selection of music playlists. I generally prefer practicing yoga to silence or soft music, so this mattered to me less. While I enjoy more active practices, I prefer to do them more slowly than the normal pace setting, so controlling the pace was a great perk. Ultimately, I chose to become a member.

Now, with the help of the Down Dog app, I’m back to practicing regularly. I’m hoping that yoga will continue to be part of my routine as I settle into my new home and city. Perhaps at some point, I will look for another class to take;  in the meantime, I’m content with doing yoga at home.

The app’s website.

More about the team behind Down Dog.

Friday link roundup 8/19

A Baltimore elementary school is sending children to a mindfulness room instead of the principal’s office. Through teaching them mindfulness techniques, the students learn how to navigate through conflict in mindful, rather than reactive, ways.

A Q&A with a National Geographic photographer about his work and the power of photography.

Ever felt like you lacked words when a loved one is grieving? This Upworthy article has insights on grief and ideas on what to say.

Last week, swimmer Simone Manuel won an Olympic gold medal. She is the first African-American to win a gold medal in an individual swimming event in the Olympics. This article shares why this is such a big deal, and reflects on swimming’s racist past in the United States.