Vinyasa Flow – Level 2 – 60 minutes
Vinyasa Flow – Level 2 – 60 minutes
Vinyasa Flow – Level 2 – 60 minutes
Vinyasa Flow – Level 2 – 60 minutes — FREE PREVIEW at YogisAnonymous.com
How often when we’re cooking are we thinking about eating, when we’re eating we’re thinking about cleaning up, when we’re cleaning up we’re thinking about dessert, when we’re eating dessert we’re thinking about what’s on TV… and we’ve missed the WHOLE process? Mindfulness practice is about giving oneself over to the present moment as it is; dropping the past and the future, renouncing worrying, planning, or fantasizing and instead nurturing a continuity of here-and-now presence. Mindful meditation, also known as insight meditation, practiced for thousands of years, has proved to be a remarkable tool for transformation. A consistent mindfulness practice used in conjunction with coaching strategies can support and illuminate the coaching interaction.
The Buddha taught virtue, mindfulness (also called concentration), and wisdom. These are the three pillars of Buddhist practice, as well as the source of everyday well-being, psychological growth and spiritual realization. “To fully realize our human condition and learn how to develop its potential as outlined in the Four Noble Truths, we begin by investigating ourselves closely. We become archeologists and dig deep beneath the surface into the most basic aspects of our being. For this task we need a sharp tool to dig with, a clear eye to see with; an attitude of impartial curiosity. These are all provided by the mental faculty known in Buddhism as mindfulness” (Nisker,1998, p.25).
Without a discipline of deep introspection it’s nearly impossible to act wisely in the world. Only when our own minds and hearts are peaceful can we expect peace to come through the actions we take. Only in periods of quiet can we disengage ourselves from the superficial busyness of our lives, reflect on what is truly important, calm our minds and access our inner wisdom. Meditation develops the capacity to question the mind. Without it, we are at the mercy of every thought, every desire; every wave of emotion. With self-awareness we understand our reactions to others, issues that complicate our lives, blind spots we fall into, as well as our particular strengths and gifts. Through mindfulness and inner transformation we can learn to make our own hearts a place of peace and integrity. “Besides its benefits for productivity, learning, and health, meditation concentrates the mind for contemplative practice; concentration supports deep and liberating insights into both the causes of suffering and the causes of great happiness and peace” (Hanson, 2009, p.203).
Serious practice changes the way we see our life, and so what we do with that life begins to shift. As we discover what we need by way of support as we look into the holes in ourselves, we begin to transform those gaps into soulful potential. “Buddhist psychology assumes that, in order to become truly healthy, you have to transform the processes of consciousness. That’s what meditation does from a cognitive-psychological point of view” (Goleman, 1981, p.129). As we ease our own suffering and discomfort, we open up to new ways of thinking and perceiving. We develop self-understanding, focused attention, presence, empathy, compassion and personal growth, thereby becoming more effective in how we can support others in transforming their lives. Mindfulness practice is a tool that gives us the skills and strengths as coaches to know ourselves so deeply that we can bring clarity to our client’s journeys.
A fundamental strength in the coaching interaction is the ability to focus completely on what the client is saying and to stay present to emotions, thoughts and sensations in self and other. Active listening includes allowing for silence, attending to the client’s agenda, hearing the client’s concerns, goals, values and beliefs, clarifying the client’s communication, acknowledging nonverbal affect cues, distinguishing interpretations, and expressing sincere reactions and positive feedback about the client’s strengths and potential. Without a meditation practice, the singleness of mind and unification of awareness that’s required to be so fully present with the client would be extremely difficult. “What you discover in mindfulness meditation is that a stream of thoughts, feelings, and perceptions keep coming into awareness and pass away, moment to moment” (Welwood, 1980, p. 130). An untrained mind is rattled and hijacked by whatever pops into awareness. Conscious thought pastes things over our experience, loads us down with concepts, and ideas, immerses us in a churning vortex of plans and worries, fears and fantasies. When mindful, you don’t play that game.
Mindfulness is a process of linking awareness with attention in order to develop, expand, and enhance both. The concentration that you gain from meditation takes the spotlight of attention and turns it into a laser beam. “Concentration practice is defined in terms of one-pointed attention, the ability to hold attention steady on an object without distraction” (Brown & Engler, 1980, p. 145). To describe this practice in the briefest terms, “the meditator directs his attention to his breath while simply noticing whatever thoughts and feelings may arise, without getting caught up in them. This kind of meditation is practice at being with ourselves completely” (Welwood, 1980, p.130). This phenomenon has been called “cultivating the witness or observer,” or “cultivating the witnessing mind.” Applied to the coaching session, “mindfulness encourages us to notice our inner dialogue and the extent to which this distracts us from or influences our perceptions of our client ”(Wildflower & Brennan, 2011, p.207). This involves the trained awareness to observe the subtle workings of the mind.
It’s the responsibility of the coach to create a safe, supportive environment that produces ongoing mutual respect and support. This includes maintaining an authentic and non-judgmental presence with the client. When we are open-minded and nonjudgmental, we invite others to share the true nature of their internal world with us. We open the doorway to them feeling seen, comforted and connected. Non-judgment and resonance with the client is what creates a state of openness and trust – the basic ingredients for growth. However, non-judging and respectful awareness are not qualities that come to us effortlessly. Unfortunately, much of the time we don’t attend in this way. Instead, we continually react, judging whether we like or dislike, or can ignore what is happening. We evaluate ourselves with a stream of expectations, commentary and criticism.
In ordinary consciousness, we would engage in some way with the thought, get involved in its meaning or emotional charge, and lose the ability to see the nature of the thought as a thought. We would fail to notice its origin, context, effect, and duration. Instead, we become the thought: who we are collapses into this passing event, and we become totally identified with its content; likewise with sounds, sights, sensations, smells or emotions. In our so-called “normal” states of consciousness we are therefore continually lost in the drama of our lives, unaware of how the process that creates our reality is taking place. We shift into mindfulness in meditation by withholding, as much as possible, any reactions, judgments, or sentiments about what happens in our field of awareness.
Non-judgmental, present time awareness begins by “observing the natural sequence of changing experience, whether its breath, body sensation, sights, sounds, tastes, smells, thoughts, feelings, etc. This aim of the practice is to develop, through careful observation, an understanding of how the process of experience takes place. It employs the cultivation of mindfulness to foster a non-reactive awareness which allows a non-interfering appreciation of the entire range of life experience” (Kornfield, 1979, p.42). For instance, if we notice that a thought has arisen, we simply acknowledge the fact, without analyzing the thought or judging it good or bad. By recognizing and accepting what’s happening inside us in the present moment, we shift out of the mode of automatic reaction or judgment and remain in touch with our wisdom and ingenuity.
Mindfulness helps us be present to our reactive, judgmental tendencies as fair witnesses. It also shows us that the only wise, practical way to meet such tendencies is with compassion. If we can practice accepting things just the way they are, we’re not going to be greatly upset by anything. And if we do become upset it’s over more quickly. Mindfulness is the ability to very quickly and easily shift out of reactive mode, and become fully present in the moment, experiencing the full force of our emotions even as we recognize that they are temporary and will soon dissipate. The more we practice mindfulness, the easier it is to stop running away from difficult feelings; to make the choice to break out of denial, stagnation and suffering; and to act with mindful intent. “By accepting both your client’s emotions and your own, without becoming overpowered by them, you become better able to shift perspectives and help the client to do so. The greater your mastery of mindfulness, the more likely you are to embody this non-judgmental and flexible presence” (Wildflower & Brennan, p.207).
Coaching presence is the ability to be fully conscious and create a spontaneous connection with the client. Compassion and empathy are essential components of embodying a healing presence. Each person who comes for coaching carries his or her measure of confusion and sorrow. Buddhism teaches that we suffer because we are blind. Compassion is the natural response to this blindness; it arises whenever we see our human situation clearly. Unfortunately, thick layers of ignorance, addiction, anxiety, envy, aggression and trauma can obscure our compassion.
We can touch into our compassion whenever the mind is quiet, whenever we allow the heart to open. “Acknowledging the universality of being human, flaws and all, strengthens the bond of true empathy, not as cognitive experience but as an experienced connection. Through mindful reflection, practitioners create a holding space for their own feelings as well as those of the client” (Wildflower and Brennan, p.207). We need compassion to help us be tender with our difficulties and not close off to them in fear. This is how healing takes place.
Through mindfulness “we are given the tools of empathy and insight to more deeply sense and understand ourselves and others within relationships, the process of our ever changing brains, and even how our mind itself functions. This inner clarity can help us to modify the flow of energy and information within our own lives and in our interactions with others in a very specific manner. The power to move our lives from nonintegrated states of rigidity and chaos toward the more flexible and harmonious flow of an integrated system is what we create when we intentionally cultivate neural integration in our lives” (Siegel, 2010, p.XII). When we are present, with others and with ourselves, this promotes empathy and compassion. “Naturally, as we deepen our own insights and self-soothing, we become better prepared to offer empathic understanding and specific skill training that can support the growth of others in their own journeys” (Siegel, p.XV).
Creating awareness is the coach’s ability to integrate and accurately evaluate multiple sources of information, and to make interpretations that help the client to gain awareness and thereby achieve agreed-upon results. This is a very crucial aspect of the coaching interaction. The ability to assist the client to discover for themselves the new thoughts, beliefs, perceptions and emotions that strengthen their ability to take action and achieve what is important to them requires that we as coaches have a stabilized lens of the internal world. It requires that we ourselves see the different interrelated factors that affect our clients and their behaviors. Otherwise we will get hooked by the client’s words and never go beyond what is said into deeper layers of inquiry for greater understanding and awareness.
When we observe the mind itself in meditation we become more open, objective and observant. This enables us to see the mind with more tranquility, clarity and depth. Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls this “seeing deeply.” Ordinarily we are not conscious of our mind-states, their origin, or how they function in our lives. We are caught in them and by them, but we rarely notice their existence. We don’t see our mind’s condition, because we are inside that condition. Whenever we are stuck, it is because we have not looked deeply enough into the nature of the experience. As we undertake meditation, we focus on the body, feelings and mind. Mindfulness helps us to increasingly detect the subtle.
When we’re investigating a difficulty, first we become aware of what’s happening in our body. Can we locate where our difficulties are held? Are we meeting this area with resistance or with mindfulness? What happens if we hold these sensations with mindfulness? Do they open? Do they intensify? Next we investigate what feelings are apart of this difficulty. Are we meeting this feeling with mindfulness? We notice where we feel the emotion in our body and what happens to it as it is held in awareness. Looking next into the mind, we ask what thoughts and images are associated with this difficulty. We become aware of all the stories, judgments, and beliefs we are holding. With mindfulness we loosen their hold on us. We practice tolerating our difficulties without medicating, denying or suppressing them. We face everything that comes up with kind attention and pure awareness. The ability to cultivate this depth of observation, inquiry and insight within our own bodies, feelings and minds empowers us to invoke similar possibilities in our clients. In working with our clients we can encourage them to focus into the present, slow down their reactions to their situation, feel it in their bodies and notice and accept their internal responses.
Clearly the wisdom tradition of self-reflection and mindful awareness contributes to the development of human consciousness and well-being. How we care for ourselves, along the path to supporting others develop well is vital. The benefits of mindfulness meditation practice in the coaching relationship are truly profound. We begin with ourselves because without knowing and loving ourselves it is almost impossible to be a light or a guide for others.
May we be filled with loving-kindness.
May we be well in body and mind.
May we be open and balanced and peaceful.
May we move forward with the intention of connecting continuously to the clarity of our minds and the compassion of our hearts.
Brown, D. and Engler, J. (1980). The Stage of Mindfulness Meditation:
A validation study. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 12
Goleman, D. Buddhist and Western Psychology: some commonalities and
differences, 1981, The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 13
Hanson, R. (2009). Buddha’s Brain: the practical neuroscience of
happiness, love and wisdom. New Harbinger Publications, Inc :
Kornfield, J. (1979). The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology
Intensive Insight Meditation, 11(1), 42.
Nisker, W. (1998). Buddha’s Nature: A practical guide to discovering
your place in the cosmos. Bantam Books: New York, NY.
Siegel, D.J. (2010). The Mindful Therapist. W.W. Norton & Company: New
Welwood, J. (1980). Reflections on Psychotherapy, Focusing, and
Meditation. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 12(2), 130.
Welwood, J. (1982).Vulnerability and Power in the Therapeutic Process:
Existential and Buddhist perspectives. The Journal of
Transpersonal Psychology, 14 (2),129.
Wildflower, L & Brennan, D. (2011). The handbook of knowledge-based
coaching: From theory to practice. Jossey-Bass: Hoboken, NJ.
The sacred is alive not just in me, but everywhere.
Thank you mother moon for moving the tides of the ocean.
Thank you father sun for moving the daily breaths of the earth.
Emerged from the earth and its seas,
I contain the waves of the ocean
that splashed up on shore
and eventually walked away.
When I taste my own tears and sweat
I taste the oceans.
The sun’s fire warms my skin
and the air I breathe.
The heat I feel inside enters me
through the food I eat,
grown under that powerful light.
My warm-bloodedness is made out of sunbeams.
Thank you earth, air, fire, and water.
My connection with you fills me with wonder.
Thank you universal Spirit,
for giving me the breath of life.
Each breath is a gift.
My life is a temporary creation,
passing like the tides and the seasons,
What I feel inspired to share with you is the ways in which my passion for Buddhism and the evolutionary sciences overlap. Scientists study life by looking outside of themselves, while Buddhist meditators look inward. In either direction there are strikingly similar maps drawn of mental and emotional life and the laws of nature. The reason why this intrigues me so much is that I believe experiencing ourselves as part of the brilliant processes of evolution can help bring our lives more joy and meaning.
It can be all too easy to experience our life and culture as separate from nature and think of ourselves as detached, autonomous beings. Not only is this a mistaken notion, but it’s one that generates much of our unnecessary suffering. The theory of evolution lends guidance and support to Buddhist insights; offering precise detail about how deeply interwoven humans are with all of life and nature.
Buddhist meditations on the elements of earth, air, fire, and water, reveal the qualities and functions of these elements inside us. Nothing about you or me can be isolated from the atmosphere, the earth, or the natural processes of life itself. One of the Buddha’s fundamental teachings is the concept of nonself, or anatta. Buddhist meditation reveals that there is no solidity anywhere. Quantum physics, which states that consciousness is nonlocal, has simply validated what Buddhist meditators have been saying for two and half millennia.
I find it fascinating the ways in which leading neuroscientists and evolutionary biologists are agreeing with spiritual mysticism and showing us how interwoven we truly are with all of life. It’s been amazing learning that we emerged from the seas; that microbes, salamanders, and apes are our common ancestors and humans are subatomically and molecularly coexistent with everything else in creation. This deep sense of union with the elements, the sea and atmosphere, plants, animals, and sunlight, allows me to view life in a new dimension. It absolutely helps me break free from the weight of my own ego and view the ever-changing conditions of life as interactively miraculous. I’m reminded that all reality is constantly in motion. Therefore, impermanence is a part of my personal reality, which becomes a spiritual lesson in letting go.
Buddhist mindfulness practice has been teaching me the ability to train my mind towards liberation, to foster self-awareness and loving kindness, and to relieve suffering – in short, to evolve. This is relevant because we are living in a time of great change. Essentially, we are at an evolutionary crossroads in which we’re faced with two planetary possibilities: chaos or transformation. We are being called upon to rise up and create that which we must hope for ourselves, for our children and the earth. I firmly believe humanity has no choice but to transform.
In his book A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle describes the next stage of human evolution as a new species arising on the planet: “frequency-holders.” He says “their function is to anchor the frequency of the new consciousness on this planet.” They are those who have “awakened to their essential true nature as consciousness and recognize that essence in all ‘others,’ all life-forms. They live in the surrendered state and so feel their oneness with the whole and the Source. They embody the awakened consciousness that is changing all aspects of life on our planet, including nature, because life on earth is inseparable from the human consciousness that perceives and interacts with it.” My prayer and my vision is that we all rise up as “frequency holders.” May we be the light; the healing our world so dearly needs.
Each of us has the capacity to make the small changes in our lives that will create big changes in our food landscape, our agriculture and even our government policies. In the small places in our lives, our shopping carts, the fridge, the cupboard, the kitchen and on our dining room table – is where all the power is. It’s the hundreds of little choices, the small actions you make every day that will help transform the American food industry.
I hope you will use the power of your fork to be part of the true food revolution!
I’ve outlined some simple ideas for detoxifying your bodies and minds:
Real Food. Simply choose foods such as – vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils (olive oil, fish oil, avocado and coconut oil), small amounts of whole grains and beans and lean animal protein including small wild fish, grass fed meat, and farm eggs.
Evaluate the amount of animal food you eat. Eating too much meat, dairy, and eggs can lead to low energy. So can eating too little! Experiment. Respect your body’s individuality.
Quality. Whenever possible, focus on the highest quality food that you can afford (local /organic foods.) Choose foods that have not been processed and therefore keep all the components of their original, natural state: fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Processing removes these elements. Read food labels and don’t eat anything you can’t pronounce. Stick to simple, whole foods that will nourish your body.
When you eat empty industrial food with addictive chemicals and sugar, your body craves more looking for nutrients in a dead food where none are to be found. Yet after eating nutrient dense fresh food for a few days the biological addiction to industrial food is broken, and in a few more days your cells begin to rejuvenate and you heal from the inside out.
And the side effects are all good ones – effortless weight loss, reversal of high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, clearing of brain fog, lifting of depression and fatigue and even better skin, hair and nails.
Understand caloric density or volumetrics. You can eat more of the foods that are nutrient-rich and low in calories. Vegetables, fruits, and dense, whole grains provide healthy fiber, loads of essential nutrients and usable energy to keep you feeling full and energized longer.
Example: One package of Oreos has 2,200 calories. For that same amount of calories, someone could consume 1 lb. of carrots, 1 lb of papaya, 1 lb. of apples, 1 lb. of onions, 1 lb. of lettuce, 1 lb. of kale, 1 lb. of tofu, 1 lb. of 2% cottage cheese, 2 lbs. of cantaloupe, 2 lbs. of celery and 2 lbs. of cucumber.
Drink plenty of water. Cravings are often an indication of dehydration. Maintaining hydration can prevent premature aging, eliminate pain and headaches, lessen hypertension and promote weight loss.
Get enough sleep each night. Growing evidence supports that missing out on sleep, can increase your appetite.
Reduce your stress levels. Try other ways of relaxing other than eating, like a hot bath or a walk around the block, yoga or a massage.
Make your own meals. Restaurant food generally has more salt, more fat and more calories and is served in larger portions than food cooked at home. If you have to eat out, try splitting one dish between two people.
Exercise. The challenge is to find the types of exercise you enjoy most, and then build them into your life. Movement is a lot like food. Different people require different types of exercise to stay healthy, and your exercise needs will change with time. Stay open to all options. Consider what time of day is best for you to get physical activity. There’s no right or wrong; it’s simply a matter of personal preference. Be experimental and find a routine you can nourish yourself with on a regular basis.
Main foods to decrease or eliminate: fast food, caffeine, coffee, soft drinks, alcohol, processed and chemicalized junk foods, tobacco, sugar, artificial sweeteners, white flour, white rice, high fructose corn syrup and trans fats.
Processed foods have flavor additions that are engineered by the food industry to put the appetite into overdrive and to make portion control impossible.
As a general rule, the worse a food is for you, the more it is advertised.
Add in to crowd out. Don’t deprive yourself by taking away foods you enjoy. Adding in new, healthier choices will naturally crowd out some of the less healthy foods. Simple wholesome foods with simple wholesome flavors turn on a limited appetite response which fills us up on fewer calories. Eat healthy foods most of the time (90% of the time) and eat less healthy foods on occasion (10% of the time). What is more important than what you take out of your diet is what you put in. Add in the good stuff and there won’t be room for the bad.
Eat mindfully. Turn off the TV and other distractions, appreciate your food and pay attention to what you’re eating to feel full and satisfied after you eat. Pay attention to emotions surrounding food and noticing what makes the process of eating more enjoyable. Do certain emotions lead to certain food choices? Food journals can be an effective tool.
Pay attention to your body. We’re different bio-chemically, we’re different physiologically. Somatic perception is the capacity each one of us has for knowing what is best for our own body. When we awaken somatic perception, we take the ownership of healing away from an “expert” and give it back to our own body. We let our inner wisdom tell us what and how much to eat, how to exercise, when to rest, how to heal. Healing begins when we release and rediscover our instinctual somatic perception. This can happen only when we stop trying to control or fix or transcend the body.
Stop Dieting. Each of us has a “natural weight” at which our body balances when we are eating well and exercising at normal, sustainable levels. Fortunately, this means you can stop obsessing over dieting and focus on a relationship with food that sustains and supports your own natural, healthy weight. Like animals in the wild, we all have a built-in gift from Mother nature that tells us when to eat and when to stop eating. In their natural habitats there are no fat zebras or giraffes.
Listen to your body’s natural hunger cues. Eat when you feel moderately hungry, and don’t wait until you’re starving. Stop when you are moderately full.
Balance your blood sugar. Research studies say that low blood sugar levels are associated with LOWER overall blood flow to the brain, which means more BAD decisions. To keep your blood sugar stable:
Eat a nutritious breakfast with some protein like eggs, protein shake or nut butters. Studies repeatedly show that eating a healthy breakfast helps people maintain weight loss.
Also, have smaller meals throughout the day. Eat every 3-4 hours and have some protein with each snack or meal (lean animal protein, nuts, seeds, beans).
Determine if hidden food allergies are triggering your cravings. We often crave the very foods that we have a hidden allergy to.
Optimize your vitamin D level. According to one study, when Vitamin D levels are low, the hormone that helps turn off your appetite doesn’t work and people feel hungry all the time, no matter how much they eat.
Optimize omega 3′s. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have also been associated with depression, Alzheimer’s disease and obesity.
Consider taking natural supplements for cravings control. Glutamine, tyrosine, 5-HTP are amino acids that help reduce cravings.