Mindfulness Meditation: Practice the Present Moment

Mindfulness Meditation: Practice the Present Moment

Mindfulness Meditation: Practice the Present Moment

What is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness meditation is a simple technique of consciously placing the mind on sensation of our ordinary breath.  

This practice is about the mind, we use our breath as a tool because it is both portable and present. As long as you are doing the technique and coming back to the practice, you are doing it. So anybody can do it!

Your Practice will Take Practice.

Mindfulness meditation is a practice of awakening, not zoning out.  

We practice being fully awake while we meditate, being aware of everything that arises in the present moment. Within our practice we simply notice what comes up without attaching ourselves to these thoughts, we allow them to surface and we allow them to pass. 

Mindfulness meditation is practice for life.  When things get difficult, your practice is always there for you. We can always return to the breath in complicated times. 

Though simple, it is not always easy. 

When we begin to practice, it does not feel natural to sit quietly and only focus on one thing. The practice requires both your focused attention and also a commitment to yourself. Yet, it is so simple that when your thoughts do happen to drift away (as happens to everyone for we are all human), all you have to do is invite yourself back to your focus on the breath. It is a kindhearted practice that provides a safe place to land, again and again. Even better, by engaging with the breath in this way, you are giving yourself a gift that will continue to grant benefits. 

Your Life Will Change.

The benefits of a consistent meditation practice include more stability, clarity and strength. 

Meditation helps us in multiple ways we may not realize at first, but as we move through our days: 

  • We are less reactive.
  • More thoughtful
  • More patient
  • More aligned

This becomes evident when we encounter difficult or challenging times. Our practice helps us root ourselves to the present moment so that we can navigate difficult terrain with more ease.  Meditation is like a gathering together; this is why it is the perfect anecdote to our daily life where we feel often scattered because we try to do so many things. 

As many wise teachers before me have said, “we don’t meditate to become good at meditating, we meditate to become good at life.”

Essentially, meditation helps to widen the gap between stimulus and response so we have fewer knee jerk reactions. I’ve found that as a parent, a wife, as a human being...this is a game changer. 

It’s being able to be aware enough that you can “catch yourself” and choose your response mindfully not reactively. This has made a big difference for me when I am tuned in. 

In the space where we pause, we create more possibilities to choose how we want to be, how we want to show up for ourselves and for the people in our life, and even how we want to show up in the world

Much like we might lift weights or exercise to strengthen our bodies, we practice mindfulness meditation to strengthen our minds.

We get familiar with not only our mind but also our whole body. The breath is our home base and the connection between the mind and body.

Set up the practice with a sense of clarity & purpose, then it will become a refuge. (not an escape) It’s making friends with yourself, an invite to live fully in each moment 

Learn the Technique.

Don’t get caught up in the experience of the practice, just do the technique, and the results come after. 

Take your seat, get settled, and grounded. 

Remember to find a seat that is “workable” for you. By this I mean comfortable to hold for a few moments of time and that will allow you to focus on your breath not any discomfort. 

Place your attention on the sensation of breath moving through the edges of your nostrils.

The steps of the technique:

  1. Placement (focus your mind on the sensation of breath)
  2. Recognition (an awakening to drifting thought- “Oops. I’m thinking my ‘to-do’ list!”)
  3. Replacement (return to your focus, come back to the breath)

To begin a daily or weekly practice, it is helpful to establish a motivation (like journaling before your practice.) Take 3 minutes, write without stopping, and remember there are no right or wrong answers just your thoughts. As an initial prompt, I suggest considering why you want to establish a meditation practice in your life. What is your motivation?  

Allow your answers to serve as your reminder. Naming your motivation and how you’d like to expand and awaken to your own daily life is just the thing to bring you back to your practice.

Let’s practice!

I’ve recorded a guided, short 5 minute practice which provides a brief overview and invites you to meditate along with me. 

Could you use more awaking to the present moment in your life? We could all use a little more grounding!

I invite you to learn about my Online Yoga and Meditation Membership if you enjoy learning about this practice. 

Contact me to learn more.

Reflection On My Cleanse

Reflection On My Cleanse

Reflection On My Cleanse

Lately, I’ve found it helpful to remember…

The world is not going to slow down, ever. There is no built-in “break” coming for us, no universal invitation to “take time for yourself.”

So, what about you and your needs?

Turns out, we need to prioritize rest and self-care for ourselves.

Truth is, making yourself a priority is often difficult. We may plan vacations with our family, but sometimes these are more like “relocations” and end up not feeling truly restful. They also often prioritize others and I know for me, as a caretaking type, I spend my time focusing on what is best for everyone else.

Can you remember the last time you actually made yourself your priority?

I recently did just this and set aside 8 days to complete an Ayurvedic cleanse with a small group. I made myself a priority for one week.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It was really hard, and at times it seemed there was a much easier way, that the days would never end, that headache would never go away… But, I stuck to it, wholeheartedly committed, and came out the other side feeling incredibly accomplished and clear-minded.

Here’s what I did.

For eight days I gave up all sugar, caffeine, dairy, gluten, meat of any kind, alcohol, and anything processed. I even went as far as making my own almond milk!

Part of the eight days of the cleanse was also a three-day semi-juice fast. I also completed this, and therefore at a truly “whole foods” diet for 8 days.

Because I had been wanting to jump-start a shift in my eating habits for a while, this felt like the perfect opportunity to jump in with structured guidance and support to help me commit.

You may be wondering, “why” one might do this kind of cleanse. The answer lies in the principles of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda has been coined, “the sister science of yoga,” it’s an ancient Indian approach to preventative health, centered on balancing your constitution using whole foods, medicinal herbs, and yogic practices. My cleanse was based on these principles and I’ve had a long standing appreciation for this philosophy.

The detox program I completed was not about weight loss…

Rather, my Ayurvedic cleanse was about: 

  • cleaning house, and clearing out all the crap that accumulates and makes us feel sluggish, bloated, achy, and inflamed.
  • restoring the flow of energy and taking care of yourself BEFORE you get sick.
  • mental stability and resisting urges to grab french fries off your kid’s plate, or just pop anything in your mouth because it looks good.
  • getting quiet and tuning in to what you actually need.  

Instead of mindlessly eating, I asked myself, am I actually hungry or am I just thirsty? Am I looking for a snack because I’m bored or stressed or do I really need nourishment?

The detox program was about slowing down and inviting mindfulness into my every meal. I resisted quickly swallowing food and instead chewed slowly, and worked to taste my food while mindfully breaking it down to aid with digestion.

My key takeaways from the cleanse include helpful concepts:

  1. A supportive, like-minded group of women is like no other.

I participated in this cleanse with three of my Simply Grounded members who had completed it before. After doing so, they shared how amazing they felt after their detox cleanses and I knew I wanted to jump on board for the next one! Having them by my side, knowing that they had done it AND were doing it again with me was probably the only thing that kept me going through that 3rd day. I really wanted to call it quits. But, these ladies texted me to check in, fielded my concerns, and even got on a Zoom call with me to prepare. We all cooked and shared food over the eight days. Finally, we celebrated our completion by meeting on a Sunday afternoon to debrief, discuss, and reflect. 

I’ve always been a pretty highly self-motivated person. 

But I don’t think I could have seen this through without these ladies by my side. Even when I really want to achieve something, it can be awfully hard to go it alone–having only yourself to hold accountable.

  • Eating all day long is not necessary.

I was amazed that I could function on much less food than I was accustomed to eating. Honestly, I could not continue with this way of eating forever, but I was impressed I did it at all. My mind was blown by how I was able to function optimally on smaller portions and juice. On my solid food days, I focused on only eating an appropriate amount of my food at each meal. I learned to stop eating when I was full instead of going back for more because I liked the taste. Have you ever noticed yourself doing this? I began to recognize this as exactly the kind of mindless eating that really makes me sluggish. Our bodies have to work extra hard to digest our excess food. Adding a hot cup of herbal tea to the end of each meal also helped. This ritual helped signify the end of each meal and provided a comforting closure that I began to truly enjoy.

To be clear, the reduction in food required for the cleanse was easier to handle because I took the week off from intense physical activity. I maintained my physical work schedule but laid off any harder workouts to give myself some grace for the increased work my body was doing throughout the cleanse. I took time to rest when I needed to and had extra time to do so–instead of completing other tasks. Most nights, I went to bed earlier.

  • Cleaing out the body, clears out the mind. 

Once I got past the caffeine and sugar withdrawal, I steadily gained more clarity of mind.
It became easy to make the choice to stay on the path because I could easily connect the correlation between my diet and my state of mind.  They were becoming more in sync.  I felt lighter, more focused, and more content. I thought about how sleepy I had felt after large meals before the cleanse, and considered how much energy it takes for your body to digest!  By chewing food thoroughly and eating smaller quantities, our body doesn’t have to work so hard and we can expend our energy elsewhere. For me, the energy was funneled into clearer thinking.

Yes, it is over now. What happened after the cleanse, you ask?

For the most part, I really haven’t gone back to my old ways.

I reintroduced one cup of coffee back in the morning (because I LOVE it and it’s part of my ritual) but now I drink it after my lemon water.

I’m going to try my best to keep gluten and sugar out of my diet as I find these to cause the most distress in my body. Though I learned a lot about honoring my body and taking time to practice patience with my habits, I’m also trying to not be overly rigid with myself. I know at some point I’m going to want to indulge in dessert (or pizza will be for dinner!) and I do believe that finding moderation is a key to healthy living.

However, I’m in for the next detox cleanse that comes my way!

Are you interested in bringing more mindfulness into your daily life?

I have multiple yoga, meditation, and group offerings available to help! 

Reach out and connect with me today and get quiet, get still, and get grounded.

What is Wind Down Yoga?

What is Wind Down Yoga?

What is Wind Down Yoga?

Before I launched my Online Yoga and Meditation Membership over the pandemic, I spent time considering my program structure. I knew my own daily life experience of “sheltering in place” was isolating, stressful, and similar to many others.

As part of my membership, I wanted to include a physical modality to help students navigate the internal tension building in their bodies as the days passed.

Everything was happening at home, and so much of it was online. Isolating while sick, working, “attending” school, shopping, visiting with extended family, animal caretaking, and childrearing were all coming together in a big overwhelming heap! Beyond this, those who contracted the illness and first responders found themselves facing even more unknowns.

To counteract this stress, I decided to offer two weekly yoga classes in my membership. One to invigorate and strengthen and another that offers restorative modalities.

I created my Wind Down Yoga class to provide this restorative practice. It offers an escape into calm…  A practice to help shift us out of high-stress mode and into a deeply restful state.

My midweek offering, a late evening class occurs at the tail end of a stressful time in many homes. Most of my students found themselves at their limit by this time of day and were ready to call it quits.

I developed an overall softer practice to help us slough off the remnants of our day and consciously transition into stillness. My Wind Down Yoga classes can be utilized any time of day, but it is intended to be a practice that prepares you to sleep.

Sometimes I include gentle stretching, In other classes, we practice Yin Yoga sequences, and once in a while, I lead a Restorative Yoga class, a practice spelled with a capital R. It’s often a blend of all three yoga modalities.

When planning, I tend to “go with the flow,” and take into account the season, consider what’s going on in the world, check my mood, and then choose a practice to embrace and balance that energy.

The Wind Down Yoga class falls in the category of what yoga teachers call restorative “with a lowercase r.”

Since not all of you are familiar with these restorative (with a lowercase r) yoga terms, and they are a touch confusing, I will clarify how I define restorative modalities. 

  • Restorative Yoga (with a capital R): A mostly still practice where we utilize supports and props like bolsters, blankets, pillows, blocks, and straps to rest our body. This is not about stretching. It’s about arranging the body in a way that feels super supportive and cozy so that you can completely release the weight of your body and fully rest.
  • Yin Yoga: A series of long held, passive postures that are often centered around a physical part of the body or energy line. Yin Yoga postures are held for several minutes to create a slow, steady load to gently stretch connective tissue in the body.
  • Yoga Nidra: Often called “yogic sleep,” Yoga Nidra is simply guided relaxation. It requires no movement at all, you create a comfortable, supported place to rest and journey inward. Some find this guided practice more restful than taking a nap!

I invite you to find out what it is all about. Take a peek at a class and join in.

I’ve created this special, recorded Wind Down Yoga class to demonstrate my weekly practice. 

It’ll help ground you in the “now” and find some quiet.

Find the details about my Online Yoga and Meditation Membership and connect with me if you have questions.

If this already sounds like a community you are ready to join, you can register here.

We’d love to practice with you! 

Winter: The Season of Yin

Winter: The Season of Yin

Winter: The Season of Yin

In Northeastern Ohio, the winter season beings in December and continues thru the end of March. Our winter in Cleveland is cold, wet, and dreary. 

Like many, I feel overwhelmed and struggle with motivation, productivity, and overall cheer when it’s cold and gloomy. I know warmer seasons are coming and I see signs of sunnier days ahead, yet winter lingers…

In these cooler months, I try to remember that winter is a season of rest and replenishment. I offer myself grace as I notice my downcast mood and turn instead toward relishing the opportunity to slow down.

Winter is a season of hibernation, dormancy, stillness, and underground activity, and not above-ground growth. 

Winter is not a season for pep talks, goal crushing, and project launching. 

Nature calls us to settle, nurture ourselves, and rest. 

Recently, I’ve started to learn more about energy medicine philosophy as I’ve grown a partnership with the talented energy medicine practitioner and my Simply Grounded Spring Renewal Retreat co-host, Beth of Roots & Wings Energy. With work so well aligned, this winter we have spent time co-teaching in my online meditation sessions

Beth teaches that “energy medicine is one of the quickest, easiest, and safest ways to reconnect with your body’s needs and affect positive change—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It integrates a wide range of techniques from ancient traditions that have been recognized for thousands of years.”

Energy medicine observes seasonal shifts in the natural world and reminds us: 

  • The season of Winter is the season of Yin.
  • Yin, in energy medicine philosophy, signifies the dark, cold, slow, inward energy cycle.  
  • This time of year, we are naturally pulled to strengthen our body, mind, and spirit.
  • Our energy levels fluctuate in accordance with the natural changes in our environment and we can trust how our body feels each season. 

Energy medicine associates winter with the kidneys which are believed to be the house of our “essence.” Without awareness, throughout the busy seasons of the year, we constantly burn through our essential energy reserves.  If we do not truly rest, we get sick… or, at the very least we feel run down and crappy. Resting our body and mind helps stimulate energy flow throughout the body and is a good practice to remember when we feel the urge to push ourselves.

With these concepts in mind, I’m choosing to respond differently this winter. Will you join me? 

Instead of checking in on your new year’s resolution progress, consider taking on less…

This is challenging, I’m right there with you. I’ve committed to spending any pockets of spare time resting, reminding myself to come back to my breath and consider thoughts burgeoning beneath the surface. The type of thoughts that can only rise above the fray when I make time to slow down…

Most days, throughout the seasons, I encounter a busy mind, with thoughts racing through my daily tasks.

Upon waking, I consider my morning schedule, which child needs transportation, what can we eat for dinner, what healthy options can I squeeze in my meals today, how will I move my body, how will I connect, and when oh when will I find the time to thoughtfully plan my next online yoga session? Sometimes, more expansive thoughts arise like the new idea I had for a meditation session or the new yoga theme for next month, and, then I struggle to jot these ideas down before I forget them! 

Instead, I’d like us to consider… 

Rather than hustling along against the seasonal current, join me in taking a collective deep breath, consciously slowing down, allowing thoughts to percolate over that cup of tea or coffee, and gently head toward Spring with me. 

Let’s do less in the remaining cooler days. Stay quiet, settle in, rest, and rejuvenate because you’ll need your energy reserves in tip top shape for the longer days ahead. 

Right now, nature is not quite blooming, animals are still hibernating, and much of this part of our country is still cool with intermittent sleet and snow. 

A strong meditation practice helps replenish and balance the nervous system, strengthens our inner resilience, and quiets the mind. Focusing on what is right in front of you, helps ease stress levels and restore energy. 

And… You can always take your practice with you. Wherever you are, so is your breath and introspection. Winter is a good time to practice while nestled inside, in a carpool line, while waiting your turn…

Let’s shift our thinking and see ourselves as part of the bigger picture.

I invite you to join the earth in rest and restoration mode… Hold on to the time of earthly quiet, and sync our breath patterns with this season of rest. 

Take a moment and practice along with me in my short Yin Winter Inspired Breath and Meditation Video. 

Would you like to learn more with me about the power of meditation and yoga as we move throughout the seasons? If my thoughts resonate with you, I would like to hear from you!  Connect with me, learn more about my Online Yoga and Meditation Membership, and join my newsletter list for the latest updates.

My Yoga and Meditation Journey

My Yoga and Meditation Journey

My Yoga and Meditation Journey

My love of yoga and meditation began in 2000 while living as a single, 23 year old in NYC…

Though I had a handful of close friends and a few co-workers I enjoyed spending time with, I ultimately found NYC a very lonely place. I desperately missed my close knit family and knew that though my NYC work experience was valuable, it wasn’t in line with my purpose and I wasn’t following any particular path. 

One day, I discovered the yoga studio across the street from my office building. 

I became hooked after my first class and started planning my schedule around when I could get to the studio. Every workday, I’d sit and watch the clock at work as it ticked closer to 5:30 pm and then jet out, hurry across the street, and arrive just in time to catch the 90-minute 6 pm vinyasa class. In the peaceful studio, I found my refuge, the place where I belonged. My evening yoga regimen became, without a doubt, the best part of my day. 

I was in love with the studio’s lofty warehouse vibe, the incense and natural cleaning product scented space. Similar people surrounded me in this environment. These open-minded, healthy lifestyle focused individuals accepted me as I was. 

In this space, we practiced together as natural light flooded through the large floor to ceiling windows. Lingering sounds of the city bustle floated up to us though they were mostly drowned out by Ram Dass chanting on the CD player. In the studio, through my yoga practice, I found my people and my place. A respite from the chaos and hustle of a city full of people making shit happen. 

I connected to my new community as we practiced new breathing techniques, moved and sweated and chanted together. A positive outlook united us. We all believed in the betterment of people. In this space, no matter the turmoil of your life or the world outside, peace was available once we stepped into the studio.  

After class, I felt like I was floating, experiencing a natural high. 

I would walk onto the street with greater awareness, and, in turn, make better choices as I was able to see the city through fresh eyes. Whatever was bothering me before class felt less important with my new perspective. It felt magical and I wanted more. 

My new, meaningful yoga practice was physically invigorating and I found I had a natural talent. I was able to pick up my teacher’s cues like it was second nature and execute the postures without confusion. 

It was not that I found yoga easy, exactly. Rather, I was able to speak the language and find the rhythm. Whatever the reason, I quickly became fluent. 

Looking back, it feels like I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to pursue yoga and meditation. Something within me pulled me toward yoga, a part of me wanted to participate in the practice before I even walked in the door. No one had recommended that I try yoga.  

I brought myself to the practice, I sought it out.  Or maybe, yoga called to me.  

A visceral memory remains with me from my early days in yoga class. I looked up at the teacher perched in front and I saw myself teaching in this same way. 

I had no doubt, I would be in a similar role one day.

Twenty-two years later, in 2023, I teach my own students as I had once dreamed, hoped, and wished I could. 

After many years of practice and teaching under my belt, I am still as in love with yoga’s magical qualities as I was when I began. I’ve grown my skills and my students appreciate my calm, down-to-earth, and relatable teaching style. My dedication remains but the seasons of life have shifted my priorities.  

Gone are the days of sweaty, 90-minute yoga classes and a hurried pace. 

Giving birth to my daughter and a short time later, my son, challenged my hopes for a consistent asana practice. The days were long and active in a different way than but I had little time to focus on my needs.  New motherhood left me exhausted, sleep deprived, and struggling with anxiety.

And, then… Awash in the bleary-eyed, early days of parenthood, I discovered Yin Yoga. 

Yin Yoga’s slow, relaxed, meditative practice provided a new way to understand my body and brought me insight into how to calm my worries. Participating in Yin’s sensation focused poses, helped me accept that my practice can evolve and feel different at different stages of my life. 

Now, as I move through life with adolescent children, I welcome my consistent 30 minute yoga practice and increased meditation focus. To increase comfort in my ever changing body and life stages, I have learned to practice offering myself the gift of grace consciously. 

These days, sustainable and intuitive opportunities to live in the present moment comfort me as I know that it is no longer possible to do everything. 

I offer myself grace as I juggle:

  • growing a small business
  • building a life and managing a busy household with my partner
  • raising children
  • holding my focus on being awake, alive, and present
  • trying to keep it simple. 
  • nurturing my ambition
  • appreciating what is right in front of my eyes

To fulfill my dream of growing consistent, calming, intuitive, and wellness inspired yoga and meditation practices in a community of like-minded individuals, I have built Simply Grounded. 

Through in person and online classes, private sessions, special events, and retreats, I share my love of wellness modalities and help others nurture their own awareness. 

We all benefit from stress relieving tools that help us manage life’s daily challenges. Our world is often a hectic place and we must work to find peace and comfort for ourselves. I’ve learned that no one is going to hand these gifts over. We need to invite them into our lives. 

I invite you to join me to learn helpful strategies that build community and help us all embrace a simpler way of life. 

Life may challenge us but we can learn how to come back to ourselves, back to the breath. Together, we can start again and become present to all that life has to offer. 

Join me in strengthening your awareness and brining more ease into your life. 

Connect with me and learn about my Online Yoga and Meditation Membership!