Meditation Monday Day #86: Now

Even though it’s still cold, spring is here. I see the crocuses and the daffodil shoots aiming toward the sun, a sun that feels warmer on my cheeks than just a month ago. When I awaken early, the birds are singing their spring song, and I am reminded of the continual renewal around me; a wheel that keeps turning whether I acknowledge it or not.

Soft curving melody, bird song lifts my morning mood.

Yes, I know it’s Tuesday. It’s been a tough week for meditation practice. When the moment came each day, it seemed like everything, er, anything, was more important than doing it. What’s going on here?

I’m going to approach answering that question keeping the larger commitment I’ve made to myself – out of which Meditation Monday grew – to treat myself with as much compassion ( = love) that I can stand. Here goes:

  •  “What’s going to happen when the 100 days are over?” I’m hearing that  I’m in the car, when I wake up, before I sit to meditate… ahhh…there it is. Ahead of myself. Expectations. Thinking I have to know something I don’t know yet.
  • And, there’s a hint of sadness, too. Will something be lost when the commitment 100 Days 100 Breaths is over? I can sense the desire to rush in and protect myself from feeling it. Hello there default mode.I see you.
  • Truth is, I don’t know what this is right now, I only know what I think it is from before. I can go there and watch it with 100 breaths.

I’ll go now.

How’s it going for you?

If you like what you read, please share it. Thanks.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Related articles & photo credit:

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there’s info about coaching and coaching with me. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

Meditation Monday Day #71: Hello, Goodbye

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 3.43.18 PM

I’ve read that the ancient yogis specifically designed Hatha Yoga (yoga poses) to prepare the physical body for the rigors of meditation. You may have heard this too. (Though, from the looks of some yoga classes, you’d be likely to wonder if the purpose of all those poses and breaths is to look like the Lululemon models.)

After a particularly satisfying yoga practice today, I noticed how much easier it is to slide into meditation. I’ve already slowed down, I’ve already been listening to by breath and been paying attention to sensations. Yoga provides a way to walk the bridge from outer to inner worlds. Yoga is the bridge and the walk.  And so my understanding of “preparing” the body for meditation takes on meaning – no, not meaning, new meaning.

Now I sit and as one breath leaves, I murmur good-bye. Good-bye?  Oh well, I go with it, saying hello as close as I can to moment I notice a breath coming in, and good-bye when I sense the last bit is gone. It’s all but impossible to discern the exact moment when out becomes in, and hello becomes good-bye. mobius-band_shutterstock_300And, I keep wandering away from it, unable to sustain full attention  for more than a few breaths at a time. Yet I keep on, aware that with each new hello life says yes – more – again – alive- forward- now…

 How’s it going for you?

If you like what you read, please share it. Thanks.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Related articles & photo credit:

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there’s info about coaching and coaching with me. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

Meditation Monday Day #64: Taking it for a Walk

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 3.43.18 PMSilence behind breaths all week. Sometimes forcing it, then having to back up, but mostly settling in with ease. Wow.

Saturday I decided to take it on the road. Walking along the soggy pavement lip of the winding roads around my house, it was weird listening inward while looking outward. Uphill made my breathing louder and I liked that. I was confused by the visuals, though. How to process what’s coming in without losing my attention on my breath? It seemed impossible. I even tried closing my eyes – that didn’t go well.

Soon I was noticing my breath filling out the area between my shoulder blades. My sense of my “back” morphed into awareness of all the space around me. Automatically, my eyes refocused at the horizon line, my head steadied on my neck and the world became simultaneously more vibrant and comforting.

I rounded the corner onto a new road and saw,

4665095894_7d23ae9ce7_z How’s it going for you?

If you like what you read, please share it. Thanks.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Related articles & photo credit:

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there’s info about coaching and coaching with me. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

Meditation Monday Day #57: Shh, We’re Watching Bweaths

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 3.43.18 PM

A new thing showed up this week.

Quiet.

There I was dutifully watching my thoughts and counting, when behind my  soft snores I heard silence.Though I’ve experienced profound quiet as a real and palpable absence of sound from the external world, this was different.

It was there and not there. In me and not in me. More than in me? I’m not sure if spatial descriptors work at all here.

I felt a sense of dropping into it. My body gave. Relaxing and mysterious – how’s that for two words that rarely describe the same thing?

I like this quiet.

I got to thinking about silence and John Cage’s controversial 4’3” Listening to it made people uncomfortable and well…you decide.

Talk to me. How’s it going for you?

Have you noticed that it’s so much better when other people tackle a disciplined practice along with you?  It would be fantastic if you were doing it too. We can share stories – or not. You can just read, lurk about and observe – your call.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Related articles & photo credit:

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there’s info about coaching and coaching with me. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

Meditation Monday Day #50: Halfway There By Going Backwards

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 3.43.18 PMYes, 50 is the halfway mark to 100. I’ve managed to keep at it, letting the commitment work on me, while I work on it. I’m proud of persevering. Are you? Butterfly kisses for me and for any of you who are doing this too.

Today though, I’m rushing my breaths in “to do” mode. Something in the acknowledgment of getting half way there has triggered something else. Suddenly meditating today is a job, no longer a choice. How quickly my relationship to it changes and my thoughts go free range.

You know that dream where you’re falling and right before you hit the ground you jolt yourself awake and realize you’ve been dreaming? I haven’t noticed my breathing in God knows how long, and now I know it.

50 more days to get where exactly? What’s important here, the outcome or the process? Who’s in charge and is this a version of Who are you listening to?

Since I seem to have forgotten myself, I do the thing I know to do when that happens. I go backwards, find something from the basics and get simple. In this case (and almost every case) this means something sensory. So I place my fingertips on the floor and lift each finger like I’m practicing the carpet piano with a breath for each note. This breath ballet takes me all the way to 100.

Talk to me. How’s it going for you?

Have you noticed that it’s so much better when other people tackle a disciplined practice along with you?  It would be fantastic if you were doing it too. We can share stories – or not. You can just read, lurk about and observe – your call.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Related articles & photo credit:

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there’s info about coaching and coaching with me. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends. Thanks.

Meditation Monday: Day #15

image002

100 Breaths for 100 Days, that’s the commitment.

Updating you on what’s happened since last Monday.

General Observations from the Week: Grabbing and Grasping

  • I seem to need about the first 15 breaths to relax my body while maintaining an alert spine. I’ll show you how I do this below.
  • Mostly I just can’t tell the difference. between controlling each breath and merely counting.
  • I worry that I won’t have anything to write to you about- that I won’t remember the sensations and thoughts I experience. Like a hawk circling above a tasty meal, I hover looking to dive,  snatch, and keep one.   I never noticed this vigilance before.
  • When I grab an observation, it morphs into an image and before I know it I’ve followed a train of thought, one that tickles me (hello ego), and I see that I’ve left the breath. Again.
  • Thought I am not giving myself a hard time about getting distracted – this is already different than how it would have been a  few years ago – there’s a sense of p-p-ull-ling myself back to the breath that’s definitely tense.
  • Day 13 I meditate, but I take no notes.

What it was like today:

Cross-legged, I close my eyes. I find my sitz bones (the ones under your butt) on the floor. Then I tune into the right side of my body. I’m imagining it softening and widening beginning at my legs and moving up to my face. Then I repeat on the other side.

At first, this leads to pleasant sensations until my spine starts to droop. Next, I imagine the meeting place between the two sides of my body filled with flowing water. Now my spine is awake enough without too much muscular effort.

My breath has been coming and going more slowly and at 40 I really notice it. For the first time, I know that I’m watching at the same time that I’m watching. Is this  the “witness?”  The part of me that’s watching me breathe feels big and loving; that heart cracking sweetness of watching my babies sleep.

Oops, I’m gone again, lost in memory. My babies. I bring my attention back to my body. Where was I?

How’s it going for you? What have you noticed?

I think it’s  so much better when other people tackle a disciplined practice along with me. There’s something even more  than support, encouragement, and empathy that happens between us, even online.  I’m perfectly willing to go solo  but it would be fantastic if you were doing it too. We can share stories – or not.  You can just read, lurk about and observe – your call.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Related articles & photo credit:

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there’s info about coaching, Focusing, free stuff. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends.

Meditation Monday: Day #8

image002

100 Breaths for 100 Days, that’s the commitment.

After a whole week ( a whole week!) of sitting Mindfulness Meditation I’m playing  with how I’ll tell you about it. Here goes.

General Observations from the Week:

  • Chucked the cushion, it distracted me.
  • Had to decide where I’d put my hands . Right now I’m opting for in my lap with fingertips almost touching.
  • I avoided sitting on Day 5- but finally did it.
  • Avoided it again on Day 6 – this time didn’t do it.
  • Knowing I was going to tell you about not practicing actually helped me let myself off the hook, “it’s all part of the experiment,” and that led me to wondering if it I could try meditating right after yoga.
  • My mind wants to use mental images to help me bring my concentration to breathing. One day it’s seeing a train conductor playing the harmonica to calm a scared child on the train, and another day it’s finding the very center of my skull. When I sensed the middle of my skull, I felt my spine elongate. My eyes (even though they were closed) shifted in their sockets. Oddly, this made it easier to  breathe.

What it was like today:

Getting started felt like easing  instead of reminding. I attribute this to being super relaxed during Shivasana (Corpse Pose) at the end of yoga. I just sat up slowly and got to it. (Makes sense, Hatha Yoga was designed to get the body ready for meditation- and it makes sense too that I’d have to experience it to get it.)

At about 60 breaths there was a rush of heat (no, not a hot flash) and I welcome it. Then I’m feeling impatient. By 80 breaths I want to stay forever. And at 90 I feel a subtle circling deep in my ribcage. It kind of snakes up to my shoulders and neck as I watch it. Then I have a powerful urge to turn my head all the way to the left, and a voice inside asks, “Are you supposed to move during sitting meditation?”

Then I think, “I don’t know the answer to that, I  haven’t a clue what I’m doing. And since I don’t, it doesn’t matter what I choose right now.” It occurs to me that I can file away this urge for further investigation at a later time. I don’t have to act on it but I can if I want. Now, it seems right to just watch and stay still. Of course, I’ve lost count several times, and am only vaguely aware that I’m breathing at all. 99…100.

How’s it going for you?

Have you noticed that it’s so much better when other people tackle a disciplined practice along with you? There’s something even more  than support, encouragement, and empathy that happens between us, even online.  I’m perfectly willing to go solo on this, but it would be fantastic if you were doing it too. We can share stories – or not.  You can just read, lurk about and observe – your call.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Related articles & photo credit:

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there info about coaching, Focusing, free stuff … go… and then go forth and tell your friends.

You are here.

No, not literally at the Adelbert but, they have one of these maps at the outlet mall in Lee, MA where I’ve been known to spend many an afternoon. The mall is weirdly laid out, so without the directory map, it would be impossible to know that in order to go from Just Socks to Calvin Klein, you have to go through the food court into the mystery passage next to Cinnabons. I told you it was weird.

Anyway, I’m driving to see a client today and I’m feeling a bit snippy.  Come to think of it, I’ve been snippy all day.  I  wonder how I can be fully present for my client if I’m like this, so I begin to use some of my practices.

The snippyness feels tight in my chest, more like resentment now. I have choices; I can go into default mode from the past; tell myself that I can’t be feeling this right now and push it down and to the side, secretly wondering if it will surface when I least want it to, or,  I can spend some time with it, acknowledge it and promise to make a safe place for it to wait, so I can come back later when I have more time.

So proud of myself for opting out of default mode and thrilled at how easily the new choices came (Yay growth!).

Only it didn’t work.

This snippy part of me was having none of it. It needed attention – now! It was having a mini tantrum; a fists waving, feet stomping,now Now NOw NOW fit! Okay, Okay, I say with my hand on my heart, I’m all ears, what do you want me to know?

It turns out that last weekend, when my workshop was cancelled (just the day before- ack) due to a plumbing problem at the venue, I skimmed over my disappointment to address the practical matters (emails to participants, rescheduling, getting deposit back, etc.). And, I was all about the silver lining. Hey now I can tell more people about it, and I’ll have time to write some more teaching stories (say this in a chirpy bad customer service rep voice).

Yes, but I  didn’t notice the frustrated part that was  let down, or at least, not enough.  I had been so excited and then – nada – and that part just didn’t get its due. So, I  get to learn (again) just how important it is to meet myself where I am.

It’s kind of hard to get from Calvin Klein back to the car (hopefully with a new sweater) if I don’t know that I’m still in Just Socks. I am HERE (at disappointed). Nice to meet me.

Benefits of doing the work I did…

Instead escalating the feelings (which is a worry I have), giving the sensation the attention it needed, listening to it, actually dissipated its intensity. Then, coming back later, in case there was more, felt possible. By talking to “it”  I was able to use the mature other parts of me to dialogue with it, which in turn, let me know that I was much larger than this sad part. I felt confident and calmer; a great place from which to meet my client where he was.

AND – new date for the workshop, Listening From Your Body of Knowledge for Parents is  Oct. 19th. We’ll learn more of the  skills I talk about on this blog. You can check it out and sign up – click photo- if it looks like your kind of thing.

Ask Judy #4: The Problem With “Why” or Try a Little Tenderness

“Why” is a fantastic question. So, this post isn’t an effort to remove it from our language, or anything remotely like that. Lately though, I’ve been listening to how some of us use Why questions against ourselves, against other people or situations, mostly unknowingly, or let’s say, unintentionally.

For example, I have a client who has just begun to notice the power of her inner critters (critics). She has become aware of how difficult it is for her to accept acknowledgment from others, or celebrate her own strengths and accomplishments – big or small.

I’ll stop here and state how cruddy it is to want to feel good and to then notice the pattern of perpetuating the not feeling good. Ouch, yuck, and – what use is self awareness if I still feel cruddy anyway? Oh yeah, I know this one really well.

Back to my client, call her Teresa. Teresa wants things in her life to change. She wants out of the patterns that she sees are holding her back. And, she’s in that place where she’s sick of the old, but when she starts to get a glimpse of the new (and how to go about taking small steps to change her pattern) the Why questions start.

Why do I have this pattern?” Why don’t I just change already? Why do I always do this? And, my all time favorite, “Why, if I can see what’s wrong, don’t I just act on what I know?”

That last question can be the subject of this blog for the rest of my life, so let’s leave it alone for now and move on to, the problem with why. Don’t get me wrong, finding out  why a pattern began is valuable work. But, have you noticed that the Why questions above (or substitute your own)  really aren’t about loving inquiry into what might be under a pattern, but more of, well, blaming?

Mostly blaming ourselves.

Why, in this context, is about looking for what’s Wrong.  Under the guise of figuring it out, we look for the bad, or really, who’s been bad (and guess who that turns out to be?). And, on top of that, we’ve  convinced ourselves that answering the question will bring us the relief we seek. In my experience, this doesn’t happen. The answer isn’t in the reason, but in the relationship with the reason, but that’s also a subject for a future blog potentially titled, “Needing to Know.”

Back to Why. When working with young children, I learned pretty early that, why, as in, “Why did you hit johnny with that truck?” goes nowhere productive. When you ask why in that situation here’s what happens:

  • Jenna, who hit Johnny with the truck, may not know why.
  • Asking why makes Jenna feel stupid, confused and possibly humiliated that she doesn’t know, ’cause if you’re asking her, the expectation is that she should know.
  • AND, she probably hit Johnny because she was scared, angry, or hurt and she didn’t know how to deal with it.
  • That’s pretty overwhelming as it is, and Why from an adult just scares her more.
  • Scared = flight, fight or freeze.
  • The answers you will get at this point are; stone faced silence, running away, “I don’t know” or some version of, it was Johnny’s fault.

See how that works? This post is too long already, so I won’t go into what might be happening for Johnny.

We aren’t much different from Jenna except that now we get to be both scared child and interrogator.  Asking why, when we’re feeling terrible just adds to the confusion and/or self-loathing we already feel.  We think we “should” know, we “should” be able to do something about it and we “shouldn’t”  try anything new (or fall back while we’re learning) unless we can know why there’s a problem in the first place.  Gaaaah.

The first thing to do here is the opposite of analyzing the problem. Why can’t help us here. But tenderness can.  Finding some intentional practice of listening to ourselves with tender regard, as we would hold a tiny seedling that we need to re-pot, or watch a bird hatch from its egg, can bring relief. From here, we are free to know more about what we might really need to do to move forward.

There are lots of great practices to investigate. You might try Exploring the Perimeter, it’s a good start. When I’m really desperate, I pick a part of my body I feel pretty neutral about – like my thumbs- and I sense them (eyes closed) with as much patient gentleness as I can possibly stand for as long as I can.

Listening to Otis singing Try A Little Tenderness here couldn’t hurt either.

Ask Judy #3 What if I don’t dance?


A recent call went like this:

Q:  I love the image you have for Move Into Change (Zeno Frudakis), do you use movement in your work with people? Me: Yes, sometimes. Q: Really? Cool…but what if I don’t dance?

Oh my. Much confusion, misunderstanding and totally unnecessary worry is in this question. Luckily this is an easy one, and answering the concerns hidden in the question gives me a chance to clarify something incredibly important to making change.

First, dance and movement are related. Maybe dance is movement’s high spirited child, but they definitely are not identical twins. When most people say “dance” they usually mean some version of having to figure out how to fit their bodies into a predetermined (by a teacher or the cool kids) series of shapes, in a rhythm. Usually this notion is attached to a sense of failure at having tried this and been told something humiliating, hence “I don’t (can’t) dance.” So, no, I don’t do that, unless it is a specific request- then, maybe.

Do I use movement as one way to help clients access what they know, explore what they want to know or to learn specific (non-dance) skill ? Yes, but only sometimes. And definitely not with a client who isn’t interested. There are many ways to get to where you’re going.

I know this to be True, you can’t get where you’re going without a body. And your body may be an a afterthought for you, which may be part of the reason life feels like it doesn’t quite fit.   A better question might be, “Why, the body?” Why so much emphasis on accessing it, through movement or otherwise, in my work/life?  Here’s how I answer this for myself, daily.

My body is my home, the home of my entire experience of being alive.

Living my purpose requires my presence, which starts in my body and with my relationship with and within my body.

My body is a container that is the hub of everything. It contains me now, me then, aspects of me forming, and the “beyond” me that I may not even know is there. It contains spaces, places, rooms with closets, airy towers, floor to ceiling windows and peepholes. There are vast ballrooms for waltzing and cozy corners for huddling.

Being at home in my body means supporting it, listening to it, getting to know the exiled, forgotten, frightened, and shy places and the joyous, desirous, ecstatic parts too.

Being at home in my body also means taking complete responsibility for my inner ecology, the landscape inside, including who gets to come in.

I am queen, king and subject: guru and disciple of this home of me.

I am in charge of my own process. Sometimes this means reminding others (and myself) that they are not.

Maybe today I will learn something about all this.