Mindfulness Meditation – 5 Minutes and 5 Steps to Well Being

marabaclassI created this 5 Step 5 Minute Mindfulness Meditation process for myself and anyone else who feels ready to feel more calm, release distracting emotions, and focus on compassion in 2018.  In the new year I always like to “reboot” body mind and spirit. Should be easy, for a Yoga teacher, right? Yes…and actually not always. Being accountable to self renewal can seem daunting when I’m teaching others, caring for family, and need to hit that BIG “refresh” button but my hands are full.  We all face changing moods, seasons, politics, bodies…life is constantly offering inspiration to renew our tools!
Let’s practice this 5 Step 5 Minute Mindfulness technique that, while requiring focus and practice, can become a new habit this year!  2018 is the perfect year to reduce stress and boost clarity. As a care taker, teacher and mother, I have deep compassion for myself and others when we can’t “just be calm”. It isn’t easy; and requires practice.  But isn’t it worth the try? Perfection isn’t my goal; I’m practicing staying centered even when things are rough around the edges.  I invite you to practice this 5 Step 5 Minute Meditation with me. Please let me know how it is going!

This Mindfulness Meditation has 5 Steps. It combines well with Legs up the wall Yoga pose but if you have a heart condition or can’t access the wall or get on the ground just sit in as comfortable a position as possible.


HERE IS WHY: What happens when we mindfully focus on our breathing?  When we feel stress, our bodies tense and our nervous system gets stuck.  Our brain can become locked and the “Thinking Mind” often reacts, judges, and creates MORE tension. How to shift out of STUCK and into the present moment where calm and clarity can heal? One great technique is  to distract that “Thinking Mind”by tuning into the physical body sensations.  With body based relaxation techniques and gentle focused breathing, we can train our brain to reset. When we keep coming back to our Breathing as our emotions and thoughts surge, and FEEL our physical sensations, our nervous system will often relax.  Let’s let our inner critic gently take a back seat as we try this meditation.
HERE IS HOW:  Follow these 5 Steps to Feel more Centered.  Set a timer for 5 minutes to start.  As the process gets easier slowly increase the time if you desire.  Use an eye bag or towel if you like to cover your eyes.

1) GET COMFORTABLE  Find yourself a comfortable pose like legs up the wall, or in a comfortable chair – put a pillow under your knees or feet in order to get very relaxed as you practice this meditation.
You may need to read this over and be prepared to try it a few times to foster the seeds of relaxation. Be comfortable with taking care of yourself.

2)  DON’T CHANGE Gently bring your attention back again and again to your belly like you would sweep a strand of hair away from your face and….just breathe. For a few minutes don’t try to change your breathing.  Simply notice what your breathing is doing.  Without changing anything, just feel the physical sensations in your body.

3) ACCEPT  Whatever happens is OK. The “Thinking Mind” likes to judge and may chatter repeatedly. When you find yourself losing focus, or forgetting to breathe, without judging yourself, gently come back and focus on the Present Moment – the way breath is coming into your body and going out of your body.  Give your Body and Mind permission to lose focus and regain it.

4) CENTER Now bring your awareness to your waistband.  Allow your belly and back to softly expand with each inhale and gently release any tension on the exhale.  Imagine a billowing tent that lifts on the breeze and then settles back into itself easily.  It may help to put a pillow or blanket on your belly to help bring your attention there and soothe your nerves.

5) COMPASSION is the Key. Notice and accept whatever you feel. On each out-breath, as you would for a close friend, offer yourself compassion, or strength, appreciation or whatever first comes to mind.
Compassion doesn’t mean being passive or not taking action.
With compassion we are clear and can do what needs to be done—that might mean taking a pause, settling the mind, and trying to see things as clearly as possible before taking skillful action.  Offer yourself safety and serenity in this short timed meditation; and any other compassionate intentions that you may want to bring in.

Continue to practice this meditation as it will powerfully enhance your Well being. Doing a 5 minute daily meditation has helped me reset my day and recommit to self care for the new year. Just like we try to be more regular at flossing, let’s commit to practicing a Mindfulness Meditation daily in 2018. Do forgive yourself for not being perfect – or flossing as often as you should:)!
I simply invite you to breathe each day and let go of whatever holds you back.

How to be an Amazing Beginner at Yoga

Have you ever wondered what yoga is like?  Have you heard the”buzz” about yoga and thought, “could I do that”?  If the answer has been, “Nah”, then please read on!  Have you ever held back from a yoga class because you couldn’t see yourself as either strong enough, flexible enough, calm enough or you just plain didn’t want to wear those yoga pants?  This can happen even if you’re not a beginner.

There are many reasons NOT to do something new; especially something fairly different as yoga.  There are a LOT of reasons TO try yoga and I’d like to tell you just one.  After years of teaching and practicing yoga, studying the body and holistic healing, and just plain managing life, this one reason stands out.  Our world is not getting more complex and we have an epidemic of need for connection on a body, mind and soul level.  What the ancients knew was that going inside and practicing mindfness of our breath and body position is a great way to find balance.  We are experiencing a global trend of such rapid change that this ancient practice of yoga has become modern medicine for the isolation, inflammation and challenges we regularly experience.

But there’s one problem: you still have to try it.  Practice body awareness and it will work.  If your inner voice is curious and you think you’d like to try yoga, you just need to get past the reasons not to do it and consider the reasons to venture out.  You don’t have to wear those yoga pants if you don’t want to, and you don’t have to be flexible, calm or strong.  What you do need to do is give yourself complete permission to see yourself doing something new.  That’s hard to do; how do you imagine yourself doing something that you’ve never done?  It’s harder than ever to make time for something that seems so…. (fill in the blank with your perception).  The good news is that there are a lot of yoga opportunities around!

If you choose to try yoga, find a beginner friendly yoga class taught by an experienced teacher.  There are SO many types of yoga; what type is best for a beginner?  There’s no one best type.  This means that you need to ask around and find a referral for the teacher who will know how to adapt the practice to your individual needs no matter what style of yoga is being practiced.  The word Yoga means connection.  Connecting to the present moment, to your body – and to your breath most importantly.   There are different poses and breathing methods for different issues, times of day, ages, body types, injuries, etc.  Your journey will truly start with just a taste of asanas (or poses/positions).  Later you can progress to a full yoga dinner party.  You just have to be willing to be an asana appetizer for awhile.

If you are new to yoga, there is probably a part of you that longs to feel powerful, energized and is just plain hungry for a taste of what yoga medicine can feel like – you may want to skip right to dessert.    If, at first, you try yoga and feel uncoordinated, it’s hard to breathe like the teacher describes, or you aren’t sure if you’re doing it right, then it’s time to congratulate yourself; YOU ARE DOING JUST FINE!  Remember that part about being at the appetizer stage?  We all set incredible expectations on ourselves; if the mind wasn’t so tranced out with distractions and judgements, we wouldn’t need yoga in the first place to achieve the centering we need.

Stay tuned for the next installment of being an Amazing Beginner, and in the mean time: find an instructor that is well trained, caring and zeroes in on your particular needs.  Have fun and don’t forget to wear your favorite costume:)  After all, you don’t have to do anything special; just choose to start from where you are.