I’ve been anticipating my first meditation exercise for a long time. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for about a year now, but haven’t gotten around to it due to the business of life. That’s why this is the challenge I’ve been most looking forward to. I’m a reader, so naturally when I knew I was going to try meditation for the first time, I bought some books. I don’t understand anything about it! I don’t get what I’ll actually be doing, what I’m supposed to think about (am I supposed to be thinking at all while I’m doing it?), how it’s supposed to make me feel…
I play the CD that came with one of my new books. This is supposed to be a simple 10 minute breathing meditation. My only job now is to follow the breath. In…Out…In…Out… All of a sudden, my mind is interjecting with its own commentary: My back hurts. I’m hungry. Wow, this position really hurts my back. Why didn’t I eat something before I did this? Uhh…it’s getting pretty hot in here. Oh yea—my breath. In…Out…How much time is left? WHAT! It’s only been less than 2 minutes? Uhh… I didn’t end feeling very good about myself; actually, I think I ended in a worse mood than when I started. I tried it maybe one other time, hardly yielding better results. And so, I gave it a rest for a while.
Another day, I picked up a different book I had bought. And YES—this one spoke to me! I felt it gave me real insight into what is going on with meditation. I simply sat down where I was, crossed my legs and meditated… At first, I was supposed to cultivate mindfulness. Just listen to the goings-on around you. I listened receptively to the sounds, and I felt like this helped to give me a good foundation. Then I focused on my breath. I realized that I had been trying to force my breath harder through my diaphragm the first couple times, so now I breathed softer, like normal. I found that my soft breath infused me with calmness when I focused on it. It was about observing the normal happenings within and around you. I felt wonderful during this meditation—like I was moving toward a frame of peace. Afterwards, I felt a kindness and receptiveness in my soul to whatever the world had to offer that night, and the feeling stayed with me until I went to bed.
Of course, I understand that not all meditations are going to go like this one. Sometimes it’s going to be a struggle. But sometimes it will feel like this one. You just never know what’s going to happen! And if it happens to be a struggle one today, it’s only temporary…and be compassionate to yourself. Give yourself points for trying, and for sticking with it. This is the best thing you can do! And continue to try again…
The book I particularly enjoyed was Meditation for Beginners by Jack Kornfield.
I have a little secret. I am having an affair. I know I shouldn’t. I should stay faithful. But it is hard! It is just so fun and there are so many temptations. So here it is: the truth. My name is Liz and I am cheating on DC with New York City.
Before LA, I lived in New York. I always loved New York, that isn’t why I left, but I definitely felt a need to escape from it at the time I moved. For me, New York is safe. My family is there. My friends are there. I know my way around (which is saying a lot for I am directionally challenged). I love the vibe and the energy. I love the food! And, perhaps, most of all, I love staying fit in New York. New York makes it easy. It is impossible not to walk…a lot. And, I am always very inspired by my runs. Central Park (the 6-mile loop goes by in a flash). Riverside drive – I swear I cover 50 blocks without breaking a sweat. When I lived in Brooklyn, there was Prospect Park and Dumbo…oh and running over the Brooklyn Bridge! So if you find yourself visiting New York…hit me up! I can suggest all kinds of fun things, places to eat, and wonderful walks.
I am not sure why I am admitting my indiscretion now. Perhaps it is because I was just there last week and had (another) wonderful visit. Perhaps it is because of hurricane Sandy that just caused so much devastation. Or perhaps, it is because I realize I want to feel about DC how I feel about NYC…or how I felt about LA. I want to know the cool, new restaurant to recommend, or the amazing 6-mile run that will leave me feeling invigorated. I am supposed to write a blog about staying fit in a city I realized I know very little about. So I have a challenge for you fit DC’ers – make me love DC. Where do you love to go? What is your favorite cheese shop or place to get fresh fish? Where do you go for a glass of wine that you know the bartender will be awesome and the wine will be fantastic? Yoga? Fun storytelling event or free gallery opening? Where do you like to go? What do you like to do?
It is easy to cheat. It is easy to run away and hide in a safe place. But I am here. So let’s go DC. Show me what you got!
I used to get this question a lot from my mom clients…. “How do I workout when I have no time?” I’d ask, “What do you mean you have no time….” I never understood this dilemma until it became my problem too! My only“ME” time these days consists of a quick 15min shower (if I’m lucky), driving in the car to clients (mama’s new quiet time) and one to two hours after dinner– maybe. A workout is the last thing on my mind at night as I try to answer all my emails from the day, cook, clean, eat, schedule, write, read, and talk to my husband… I’m out of breath just writing it all down. So instead of exercising—I take advice from my cousin (mom of two): “And that is why mommy drinks!” AMEN! It’s only one glass of wine… moderation remember (I’m still making up for 9 months)!
So I started with my own advice: just like the calories you eat all day add up— so do your exercises. My challenge is to get in 10mins of exercise at a time and aim for three times a day (yes 30mins- for my fellow sleep deprived mamas). I start with my leg workout for 10mins in the morning with lunges, squats, and plies as Jack plays in his crib and I go around picking up and doing laundry while singing the ABC’s. My second 10mins is after lunch (Jack’s lunch, not mine — I’m still trying to drink the same cup of coffee from the morning). Jack lays on the floor under his play-yard, while I get in push-ups, dips, and side-planks as I throw Maggie’s (my 3yr old wheaten terrier) toys down the hall– that counts as arms too! And finally, my last 10mins of AB exercises comes before bath-time. I start in plank while Jack practices his tummy time on the floor and sing Bob Marley– Jack’s favorite, followed by several leg lifts, pikes and boat poses. Even though the exercises are fragmented; they all add up to a 30min workout.
In the end, I’ve been struggling with my own guilt over taking an hour or two to myself for a yoga class or going for a run. The idea of paying the nanny extra so I can workout seems crazy…. I’d rather run errands, grocery shop, clean, do work, and unfortunately put myself last. However, I’m starting to realize that taking an hour for myself makes me a healthier & happier mama. So the moral is I encourage all of you to grab your baby and workout with them throughout the day or take that time for yourself— you deserve it!!