Two Step Walking Meditation


Metta in this Moment
Metta

Though we tend to tumble headfirst into the next moment out of sheer force of habit, we can train ourselves to pause in the midst of our busy days. We can ground ourselves in the midst of stressful situations by bringing awareness down to our feet, feeling the earth supporting us. Grounding ourselves this way, we’re more able to handle whatever difficulties arise with more grace and increased empathy and compassion for ourselves and others.

Mindfulness Practice with the Feet
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Bring your awareness to your feet. Feel them in your shoes. See if you can feel each toe on its own without wiggling them. It’s okay if you can’t. We’re not seeking any special experience. We just want to see what’s going on right here and now.

Now – Feel the shoes gently holding your feet. Next allow yourself to feel that the sole purpose of the earth, it’s only job, is to hold you up. Rest in that awareness.

2012_0506_images_10a_berry_conversation_wendell_portrait(The great Wendell Berry)

Simple Walking Meditation

Walking requires a constant shifting of our weight from foot to foot, an act we rarely pay much attention to. As we shift the weight, it’s as if we fill one leg and empty the other, of weight, of energy, however you like to think of it. This occurs as we place first one foot down in front of us to step forward and then the next. Let’s slow this process down for a few steps to attend mindfully to the many sensations of walking.

  1. As you step forward, place your foot down ever so softly, feeling that initial contact with the ground or floor. Slowly begin to shift your weight into your forward foot, feeling it supporting you as you fill the leg up.
  2. Be aware at the same time, of your rear foot and leg. Feel how the rear leg gets emptier and emptier; the foot releasing contact with the ground.

Repeat for a few steps, up to ten.

Walking is actually a wondrous act. Let’s enjoy it together. Let’s be grateful for our capacity to walk. Let’s take a moment of gratitude for our feet and legs.

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Pausing is Possible Anytime

You can practice this simple walking meditation any time. It’s a very good practice before any stressful events like meetings, difficult conversations etc. Try pausing next time you’re heading somewhere. The simple act remembering that you can pause and doing it, even for a moment or a few steps, is incredibly powerful.

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Guided Meditations


People have all kinds of ideas about guided meditations and this blog will hardy be an authoritative response to all the ideas out there. That would be not only impossible but a waste of everyone’s time.

I can tell you this however. For the beginner, guided meditations can be extremely helpful. Because meditating alone in your room can feel like jumping into the deep end of a very choppy, stormy ocean without any support, a life jacket at least, a little raft.

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It can feel this way for the experienced meditator as well. Maybe life’s been handing you a particularly rough patch and though you’ve been meditating for years, you’re just not feeling it.

Maybe you’ve been sitting with your father who’s dying, maybe you’ve lost your job or are in the midst of a huge paradigm shift in your career, which you thought would last forever, and now it feels like you’ve got nothing to stand on.

Maybe you’re dealing with a terrible disease, acute or chronic and you’re just not even sure who you are anymore.

Maybe you’re just like the rest of us poor slobs wondering why and how it is that even the most joy-filled moments of heart splitting wonder seem to have this little nugget of sadness embedded in them. Maybe you’re one of those folks who feels you’re always waiting for the other shoe to fall.

On top of that you may be thinking, I should get a grip, I’ve been meditating for (insert number of months, years meditating here) I should be able to settle my mind down. I’m a terrible meditator. 

Or, maybe you’re a meditation teacher and you’re in that place where even the coach needs a little extra support and love and you think crap, who can I ask for help? This is SO embarrassing!  Nonsense darlings! Now and then all of us need some help, a little extra support, for all kinds of thing, including our own self care. In fact, research shows that actually asking for help is a sign of STRENGTH. So there’s that.

Let me tell you dear ones, you’re not a terrible meditator. You’re just feeling overwhelmed. There’s no shame in getting a little assistance.

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So, no matter who you are and how long you’ve been sitting and meditating, it is okay. If you feel like you need a permission slip – here it is.

Go ahead and use guided meditations when you want to. Sometimes it’s just nice to let someone else drive the bus, right?

When you feel ready to sit in silence, on your own, you’ll know.

Lots of people, all over the globe practice alone but they may also sit with a group from time to time, some weekly. Many folks also make regular check-ins with a meditation teacher. To that end, I strongly encourage you to find a teacher somewhere and study with them. It’s highly beneficial to have someone whose been down the road ahead of you to whom you may turn to ask questions and talk things over.

In support of all that, I’ve made a new page on the site offering some free guided meditations which I’m recording. You’ll also find links to the sites of several wonderful meditation teachers out there who offer audio, readings, books, retreats and so forth. Please check it all out. Explore. Find what works for you.

Please share the link to this page with friends, colleagues, loved ones. Anyone who might benefit from a little friendly mediation support.

Sail on friends. Sail on. Life’s just a series of tacking points. No direct line. Let’s enjoy the journey together.

Namaste,

Hillary

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Today’s Lesson


Get out of your own way.

It’s the first day of spring. A good time to plant new seeds in your life. (And by your, I mean as well, my.)

  
I think a common problem we all may have from time to time, is getting in our own way. 

Maybe we get scared, over think things, aim too high-too low, whatever. Self-sabotage? Yes. It’s a thing.

Let’s take this moment together then, right now, and pause a minute or a few, however long you need, and contemplate.

Where are you feeling stuck in some way? Like you’re not making forward progress?

When we can feel our way into those spaces, and sit quietly with them, we can begin to see when and where they started. Meditation is great for this. 

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When we still ourselves enough, the heart and mind can begin to settle, the emotional waters still so we can all the way to the bottom, down there in the mud and muck. 

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Then we can see which roots are lotus roots (wisdom) and which ones are some invasive weed (noise/suffering).

This takes some time and patient practice. And self-compassion. But it works. 

So today, on this first day of spring, won’t you join me? Together let’s pause and examine so we can build together lives of greater happiness by planting something really wonderful and rooting out a few weeds. 

Let’s get out of our own way. 

I wish you well. And I’d love to hear how it goes if you feel like sharing. 

Namaste,

Hillary IMG_0141

Happify and Sharon Salzberg video


I don’t need to say much about this video. It’s short, very charming and offers a wise teaching that can benefit all of us. Sharon Salzberg is a wonderful teacher. Enjoy!  


  
From #StephenCope “The Great Work of Your Life” Merton here catches exactly the spirit of Thoreau and Anthony and Tubman — and all the others. These great exemplars of dharma each took a craftmanlike view toward life: Do your daily duty, and let the rest go. Polk away systematically at your little calling. Tend the garden a little bit every day. You do not have to exhaust yourself with great acts. Show up for your duty, for your dharma. Then let it go.” 
What is your little calling? 

What makes you feel on fire with purpose?

What is your gift to the world?

What actions do you need to take to make it all real?

Free 1st Saturday Community Meditation


Are you feeling stressed, trying to balance life, family, work?

Do you feel like sometimes you’re just skimming life or missing out on something critical?

Do you sometimes feel like you’ve lost something you once had and can’t quite put your finger on it?

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Meditation can help you regain your compassionate, patient, adaptable center.

You will learn how to:

  • handle stress with greater ease
  • discover the true source of your unhappiness or suffering
  • understand how the causes of suffering operate
  • find the way out of suffering
  • cultivate step by step practices that support peaceful and happy life
  • be more present for your daily life
  • deal with difficult emotions
  • to recognize harmful and beneficial habits
  • let go of harmful habits
  • cultivate healthy habits
  • and much more

We offer free community meditation every first Saturday of the month.

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Donations gratefully accepted.

WHERE: 1839 S Halsted

WHEN: 1st Saturday of each month 9-9:45 am

OTHER: Please refrain from wearing perfumes and colognes. Wear soft comfy clothing. Layers are good.

 

Spring Break Stress-Buster


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Do you answer yes to any of these?

Are you a college student feeling a bit stressed out?
Do you sometimes have trouble concentrating right when you need your mental focus most?
Do you try to “cram” before tests?
Do you sometimes feel anxious about all the work load – balancing school with work, friends and family?
Do you want to end this semester with your best work?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this mini-retreat is for you.

Studies repeatedly show that students who meditate do better on tests of all kinds. They also feel less negative stress and maintain better over all health.

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Learn to adapt, refresh, succeed
Designed specifically to address the needs and pressures of college students to help you complete your semester in the best way possible, the retreat is for beginning meditators with no or little experience, and more experienced practitioners.

You will enjoy:

  • transformative morning or movement
  • meditation
  • writing
  • unleashing your full potential
  • leave feeling relaxed and alert
  • You will learn strategies for developing your powers of focus and concentration
  • how to take tests with less stress
  • cultivate self compassion.

    Come in comfortable soft clothes, bring a yoga mat if you have one, and a notebook and something to write with.

    WHEN: March 26, 2016 9-10:30 am
    WHERE: 1839 S Halsted St
    TUITION: Just $25
    QUESTIONS? Call Hillary at 312-714-4563 or email me at calmchicago [at]gmail [dot]com

    Advance registration requested. https://squareup.com/market/hillary-johnson-2
    P
    lease share with your favorite college students!

Namaste,

Hillary

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