Smell the Roses in Your Poses
|Photo by Seraphina Landgrebe|
That was the theme for both of today’s yoga classes at Open Spirit in Framingham, MA: Youth Yoga for Grades 5-8 and Veterans’ Yoga.
Every year, we dedicate an entire day to the celebration of gratitude. We are thankful for good food, good family and friends, good life. But we do not have to wait till this day to be thankful because yoga teaches us to practice mindfulness and the appreciation of gratitude can be practiced all year long. Gratitude unlocks the abundance of life. It turns what we have into enough; granting us satisfaction with our own personal riches. Being thankful for little things around us allows us to be resent and alive fully in the moment. This brings to my mind the phrase “Stop and smell the roses”. If we do stop and smell, look, listen, feel, then we will begin to notice the richness that surrounds and inundates all our life’s moments. Our society floods us with wants and needs (the latest technology, the “best” brands, monetary wealth) and this can become a vicious cycle-but by taking a step back and being aware of the things in your life that you are truly thankful for, brings harmony to chaos, clarity to confusion and peace of mind is born out of turmoil. Notice the veritable cornucopia of things to be grateful for in your life: your family, friends, a roof over your head, working at something you take pride in, a smile or kind word from a stranger, a flower peeping out from the sidewalk, a fresh breeze, the warm touch of the sun, the smell of the earth after rain, the farmers who grow the food, the chef who cooks it…the list is never ending!
So…stop and smell the roses! Take a moment to look at the trees and notice their leaves or lack of, feel the wind on your cheeks and breathe! Breath is what keeps us alive. It can both relax and energize us!
What does mindfulness mean?
A simple mindfulness meditation:
1. Find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit in a chair or on the floor with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff. You can also lie down on the floor. Or lean against the wall.
2. Become aware of your breathing, focusing on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air entering and exiting your nostrils (For the first few breaths you can also allow the exhale to come out through pursed lips. This help to elongate the exhale and the sound is a great focuser) and leave your mouth. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different. Notice that the air is cool as it enters the body but it is gently warmed when it exits.
3. Watch every thought come and go, whether it be a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts come up in your mind, note them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor. Watch your thoughts as if they are clouds drifting by in the sky.
4. If you find yourself getting carried away in your thoughts, simply return to your breathing. I sometimes like to say “Thinking” or “Thought” when I notice I have drifted and this helps me come back to the present moment and my breathing.
5. As the time comes to a close bring some more energizing breaths into your body. You can wiggle your fingers and toes. Roll to one side (if lying down). Get up gradually.
Remember to “Smell the Roses” in each one of your yoga poses. Allow yourself to be right there, in that pose, and fill it up with yourself. Have the courage to be present.