Food For Thought
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Space: The Final Frontier

Ah yes, you might guess I am a bit of a Star Trek geek, from the title of my post, but I am not going to discuss Klingons or the Prime Directive. I am here to plant a seed in your mind to get you through this hectic time of year and create some space for you to breathe.

Read this paragraph, and then close your eyes and take 10 slow, deep, intentional deep breaths.  It may help you to say to yourself “I am inhaling… I am exhaling”, or slowly count as you breathe.  Then come back here.  I will wait…

Done?  How do you feel? Chances are you will feel a bit lighter, a bit more focused and a bit calmer.  You may have a sense of clarity or peace.  Or you might feel agitated and want to run away, how should I know? I am just a bunch of words on a screen! If you feel that agitation, sit back and do it again, or come back to it tomorrow.  Nothing is easy or perfect.

Now think for a moment how your life would change if you could find that sense of lightness, clarity and focus on a regular basis.  How would your work be affected? Your relationships? Your to-do list? Your road rage?  Aaah…to not get angry when that person stops short and doesn’t use his turn signal! The good news is this IS possible.  It is possible to find that sense of calm on a daily basis. The bad news is, you will have to do a little work, set a few boundaries, and truth be told, it’s not easy.

Ten minutes a day, that’s all I suggest.  Wake up 10 minutes earlier, or set a timer for yourself at a specific time of day, or better yet, log off of the internet (especially facebook!) for 10 minutes. It will still be there when you get back, I promise you won’t miss anything.  Pick a timeslot, put it in your calendar for 7 days.   Find a comfortable place to sit.  Don’t be picky, just be comfortable.  If this is on the sofa with your grandmother’s afghan on your lap, then so be it.  If you have to lock yourself in the bathroom and sit on the commode, so be it.  You do not need any special cushions from Tibet, or blankets from India, you don’t need to burn incense or wear special clothing. And you certainly do not have to sit in a full lotus position. Just be comfortable.  Turn off the TV, the laptop, the iphone, and tell the family that you are not to be bothered.  Set a timer for 10 minutes.  Then close your eyes, and begin to breathe.  If you get distracted, let it go and get back to breathing.  As you breathe, do a scan through your body and just note how things are feeling.  No need to get caught up in the story, just acknowledge how the body parts are feeling at the moment.

I suggest keeping a log. How did you feel before you sat down? How did you feel afterwards? What were the challenges? Maybe you will increase your time or the frequency, maybe you won’t.  Commit to this practice for just a week, sitting, breathing, and logging your experiences.

Things to remember:

  • Set Boundaries- Tell your family or house mates, that you need 10 minutes to yourself that you are not to be interrupted unless someone is bleeding or unconscious.  That is all you need to say.  You don’t have to explain that you are meditating unless you want to.  If you tell them, be prepared to discuss and defend your actions, people like to debate!
  • No Expectations.  Just Experience. – Do not expect to ascend to an enlightened state of consciousness and float away into never never land.  Chances are you will struggle and check the timer, fidget, sneeze, itch and move around.  No expectations means you won’t be let down.
  • Stuff Happens- Even with the boundaries in place, interruptions occur.  Sirens will wail, clocks will tick, alarms will ring, children will scream, dogs will bark, cats will climb on your lap, spouses will interrupt.  Take care of the distraction if it is urgent, and then come back to your meditation.

This is a challenge, I know it.  I also know that this short practice can bring an abundance of goodness into your life.   This is the busiest time of year, full of holiday parties, family get-togethers, shopping, headaches, food, and drink.  You may decide you want to wait until January 1 to start this practice.  That is fine, but just know, there is no time but NOW, the present moment, to create change in your life.  There will always be chaos and commitments.  If you can find 10 minutes for yourself now, think how good it will feel to already have that discipline in place once the New Year begins!

– Stephanie Smolik, Yoga and Pilates Instructor

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