Strength of Center Fitness - The fusion of yoga and pilates.
At the advise of many, I took on the challenge of meditation. It has not been an easy journey.  My mind wants to bounce from one place to another...often reiterating negative thoughts.  An internal conversation with yourself becomes exhausting!  Me? Quiet the mind?  I thought, no way!  Then a dear friend shared a book, some music and advise.*  I was determined to sit peacefully, even if for a short moment.  One minute of silence became two minutes.  Two minutes became ten minutes.  When I first reached 25 minutes, I could not believe it!  It is funny to think of meditation as competitive...but that is how I viewed it at first.  I just had to be successful at this.  Now I no longer look at the clock before beginning my practice.  I no longer feel that my body has to be still in order to meditate.  Sometimes, I will flow through a simple sun salutation and "let go".  With the element of time out of the way, I get the most out of the silence.  It puts a brand new perspective on things for me.  I am lighter in spirit and much more kind, internally, to me and others.  Do I still get angry, stressed and yell at traffic:)?  Of course, I do...I am still me!  But it is the release and then the calm after.  I no longer try to fume or stew over minor things.   It is as if my heart doesn't have the time for it.  I am a better person because of these precious quiet moments.
 
I will share what has worked for me. You may find some of these ideas helpful or you may find your own path.  Regardless, try it and find what works for you.  Let me hear from you!  I am so excited to take this journey together.  I prefer to lie down and I always place my mat at my bedroom window.  I have a clear view of the lake and trees and it brings me peace.  I try to meditate a few mornings a week.  I like the mornings because I don't have to worry about fitting time into my day.  Breathe deeply...let the entire body relax.  Clear the mind and stay in the present moment.  That is the hard part for me!  You may repeat a simple phrase or word to yourself.  You may focus on someone you care deeply for...you may even focus on a place...at the ocean or on a mountain top.  Sometimes just focusing on a color and all the tones and shades of that color work for me.  I prefer soft music. If I find my mind wandering I tap my thumb and index finger together to bring me back to the present.  Some days are easier than others.
 
In Napa, I had a massage by a man who was quite experienced with meditation.  He shared this exercise with me and it really works!  Imagine a large blackboard.  Take the conversations in your head to one sentence each.  Take that one sentence and condense it into one word.  Write that word on your chalkboard.  Then erase it!  Keep doing that until the mind is clear.
 
Find peace, enjoy love, family and friendships!
 
*The book:  Passage Meditation, by Eknath Easwaran.  The music:  Canyon Trilogy, by R. Carlos Nakai
Some great stats about yoga! People see a 33% decrease in stress after taking a yoga class.  People with low stress levels saved $2,000 annually in health care costs.  Just one hour per week in a yoga class results in lower stress levels.
Here's more! One hour of yoga (standing, sitting and balance poses) helps raise the brain chemical GABA (low levels are linked with depression) by 27%.  Yoga helps reduce anxiety, increases body awareness and speeds up the release of hormones that rev sexual arousal.  Just two hours per week may make a difference!
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