Despite the growing popularity of mindfulness programs in the workplace, it can still feel a little weird to start a meeting at work with a meditation. Mindfulness is not for everyone. Nevertheless, scientists continue to amass evidence — intended to persuade rational Western minds — detailing the benefits of taking pauses during our days, including our workdays. Now we are learning that with regular practice our well-being can be cultivated.
During COVID I have been creating slideshows with audio to send to meditation groups in my local prison system. I have developed a process that I find to be quick, useful, and reliable. Nearly all of it happens on the GNU/Linux command line. It's not fancy, and this kind of thing certainly is not for everyone, but I thought at least a few others might find it helpful.
Breath is an ever-present aspect of life, which is part of the reason why "mindfulness of breathing," or ānāpānasati in Pāli, is probably the most common form (object) of meditation. Typically, the practice involves focusing attention on the physical sensations caused by the movement of the breath, the in-breaths and the out-breaths. Mindfulness of breathing is a feeling practice, not a thinking practice. It's so profoundly simple that we can do it at any time, whether seated in meditation, holding a yoga posture, or picking up after the dog.
Yogis, meditators, mindfulness coaches, Christians, and countless other spiritual seekers commonly employ the metaphor of the garden to represent stewardship. To view the mind as a garden is to view it as a place with potential value and commit to cultivating it. One must locate the space and make effort, which can take a variety of forms. One can tend to the garden of the mind while doing yoga, meditation, or any other activity in life.
Starting tomorrow, Spirit of the Lake will begin offering free, live, online community yoga classes on Tuesday evenings, 5:30-6:30pm, to support the needs of the greater community. Each week during the month of January will feature a different Spirit of the Lake teacher.
Guided meditation for all? You betcha! I started a new meditation podcast called Pretty Good Meditation.
Previously I have offered live guided meditations through Spirit of the Lake, in assorted settings at Lullabot, in a combined Yoga & Meditation class, as well as in prisons, churches, and other settings. Some people have asked about additional opportunities for guided meditation, and a podcast seems like the most accessible format for me to provide a consistent stream of guided meditations.
For the entire month of December, 100% of the proceeds from all of my yoga classes will go to the ICA Food Shelf.
The mission of the ICA Food Shelf is "to offer hope as we provide assistance to our neighbors in need." Since 1971 they have provided food, clothing, and other vital assistance to people in my community. For instance, in local schools ICA distributes food bags, which contain easy-to-prepare food for the weekend, and also fit comfortably into a backpack.
This World AIDS Day, Tuesday, December 1 at 6:00pm CST, I’m partnering with the Canadian nonprofit organization Tribe of Lambs and hosting an online, donation based, gentle yoga class with 100% of the proceeds going to support children born with HIV at orphanages in Jaipur, India. All money from this pay-what-you-feel class will go directly to fund clothing, food, and housing expenses for these children.
Tomorrow at 10:30am Central I will be giving a presentation (online) and leading a discussion about "deep listening," a practice developed by the composer, electronic musician, accordion player, and improviser Pauline Oliveros. While some teachers are certified to facilitate "Deep Listening Workshops," I will instead provide some background about Pauline Oliveros and her Sonic Meditations, an overview of the practice of deep listening, and offer some interpretations of her music.
The first meeting of the Spirit of the Lake Community Discussions & Book Club last night was a resounding success! After a brief centering exercise and introductions, we had a lively, thought-provoking discussion about a Yogaland podcast episode that featured an interview with religious studies professor Andrea Jain about her book, Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture.