100 Days of Meditation

100 Days of Meditation

On January 3, 2016 I completed my first 100 Days of Meditation marathon. It took me three attempts in seven months to finish this challenge. My parameters were to meditate 1-2 hours a day for 100 consecutive days. I used the Insight Timer app to track my progress.

Obstacles Create Incentives.

An Iyengar teacher once told me that whenever life gets busy our personal practice is the first thing to go. Before starting this marathon I anticipated that moving would be my biggest obstacle. After moving eight times in four months it felt like I was constantly trying to get back on track. I was determined to realign with the root of my practice.

In yoga we talk about the necessity of foundation. The root of our practice comes from consistent, comprehensive application. Foundation also relates to our basic survival needs – food, shelter, money, resources. It’s very difficult to commit to any kind of spiritual practice without a solid base to work from. For a practice to mature a good foundation is essential.

But there are times in life when we’re called to step outside our comfort zones and perhaps grow a thicker skin. As easy as it might be to lose track of our routines, these opportunities are the BEST times to practice.

Marathon Highlights

SO much happened in seven months. Just to review some highlights:

This marathon helped me take my practice to the next level. Each time I practiced it was like hitting the reset button of my whole being. My body healed in some extraordinary ways (you CAN be your own chiropractor!) and my mind became more resilient and flexible. Like the saying goes, “don’t sweat the small stuff,” this challenge helped me navigate some really big stuff. I did get shut down a couple of times while moving but I managed to finish in the midst of a week-long moving endeavor.

Good Advice

Now that we’re at the cusp of a New Year and resolutions are fresh in people’s minds, I’ll offer the same advice that I received before starting this challenge: “Just do it.”

And I’ll add my two cents: pick a goal that challenges you in a healthy way. Be stubborn about your goal but flexible in how you go about achieving it. Breathe through the tough spots. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you fall off the horse get back on.

One other tip: if you’re feeling really beat up after a super-long day and still want to practice, try washing your feet and put on a fresh pair of socks. You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel.

100 Days of Meditation

To document this challenge I posted mini-milestones of my journey on Facebook. Much like how people will post updates for their runs, cycling routes, or check-ins at the gym or studio, I shared little updates on my progress. You can find these posts on my Facebook page along with the hashtag #100daysofmeditation.

Interested in starting your own meditation marathon? I’d love to chat with you. There are so many different kinds of meditation. We can discuss these options in your free no-obligation consultation: Book Now

Winter Solstice and the Guru Bead

Winter Solstice Guru BeadThe winter solstice marks the shortest and darkest day of the year. After December 21st the daylight increases but for a few days the sun’s high point appears to stand still before changing direction. Within this stillness a powerful change is taking place. The winter solstice is a time for reflecting on the past before beginning the next cycle.

With all of the parties, projects and presents calling our attention we may resist the urge to turn our focus inward. But setting aside time for reflection helps us clarify what we hope to create in the coming year. The winter solstice can be a time for grieving as well as celebrating past memories. It can be a time of gratitude for our accomplishments and identifying the lessons of our mistakes.

If we can be gentle with ourselves we’ll be able to move through this process with ease. A time of reflection is an opportunity to be lovingly honest with ourselves. Opening our hearts to the past can help us release old patterns that may no longer be serving us. The solstice presents us with a valuable opportunity to connect with our inner teacher.

On a personal note, this is my 109th blog post. The number 109 has a special significance. A Japa mala is a string of prayer beads that is used for meditation. The most common malas have 108 beads. 108 is a sacred number in Hinduism and Buddhism. Almost all malas have a large bead at the end called the Guru bead. This extra bead is also called the Mother or Seva bead.

When using a mala a practitioner holds each bead as they recite a prayer or mantra. This practice helps to build tapas, the alchemical or purifying heat of transformation. Once a practitioner reaches the Guru bead they reverse direction.

The Guru bead serves as a reminder of the sacred connection between a teacher and a student. It is considered to be disrespectful to pass over this bead. The Guru bead reflects the awareness that we should bring to every aspect of our lives and the value of contemplating the intention of our meditations.

As I’ve reached the Guru bead of my writing meditations I’ve been going back and updating articles from the past four years. I recently started learning about SEO and have been applying this technology to my website. This time of reflection is helping me prepare for the next evolution of the Mind Body Mandala. You can find the fruits of my labors on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a peaceful New Year!

Emily Seymour Yoga Guru Bead Reflections

 

Thai Curry Soup

Thai Curry Soup Recipe

It’s great to be back on the Western Slope of Colorado. There is something extraordinary about this place. I felt it the first time I drove across the Utah-Colorado border. After exploring Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Utah for the past six months it’s wonderful to know that this is where I want to live. The synchronicity that led to moving to Grand Junction was nothing short of miraculous. And the work that has gone into getting to this point has been significant. Needless to say, I am very, very grateful to be here.

The weather is perfect for soup.

It’s starting to cool down a bit at night, so I’ve been making some small changes to my diet and lifestyle. Soup has been calling my name, so I made a big batch of homemade chicken stock. Last night I whipped up a pot of Thai curry soup. The warming spices and rich coconut milk melded with the slow-cooked meat and vegetables which made the house smell wonderful!

A bowl of good medicine.

This recipe is incredibly versatile, so feel free to play around with the ingredients. I used what I had on hand and made my own curry powder with a good-quality organic turmeric powder. Turmeric is a great addition to your medicine chest [a.k.a. pantry]. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola:

“It has a long history of medicinal use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as well as Ayurvedic medicine.

Traditional medicinal uses include the treatment of liver disease, skin problems, respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments, sprained muscles, joint pains, and general wound healing.

Its benefits have since been well documented in the medical literature, and curcumin—one of the most well-studied bioactive ingredients in turmeric — has been found to promote health and protect against a wide array of health conditions.

It actually exhibits over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, including anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity, as well as potent anti-cancer properties that have been intensely studied.”

The full list of health benefits is way too long to list here, so let’s get cooking! One of the ways to really amp up the flavor of any soup or stew is to add a sprinkling of Celtic sea salt in the final stage of cooking. Just be careful – this stuff is STRONG and a little goes a long way. I also add just a touch of sugar to balance the flavor of the curry. I like spicy food but I can get a little heavy handed and the sugar helps to round things out.

Thai Curry Soup

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1/3 yellow squash, chopped
  • 2 mushrooms, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked dark chicken meat, sliced
  • 1 rounded Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/2 a can of full fat coconut milk
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Kosher and Celtic salt
  1. Start by warming the chicken stock in a small saucepan over low heat.
  2. Place a large wok over medium heat. Add coconut oil, chopped onion, red pepper and carrot. Stir occasionally and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add chopped yellow squash and mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with Kosher salt.
  4. Add minced garlic and sliced chicken meat. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then coat with curry powder. Stir mixture constantly (it will be dry) for another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add chicken stock, coconut milk and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer until carrots are tender (15-2o minutes). Add a sprinkle of Celtic sea salt and adjust seasonings as needed.
  6. When ready to serve, add a generous handful of baby spinach and stir until the leaves are wilted. Ladle soup into two bowls.

Serve with hot white rice or cooked noodles.

Easy Thai Curry Soup Recipe

If you enjoyed this recipe you might also like: Home Rituals – Tortilla Soup 

Personal Yoga Discount $

Personal Yoga Discount

 

Personal Yoga sessions are a worthwhile investment because of their effectiveness and numerous benefits.

A great way to receive the same results at a fraction of the cost is to become a research client!

As a research client, you will receive the same training program as other clients at a discount. You may be asked to:

  • Fill out pre or post session assessments
  • Participate in photo or video documentation
  • Spend a few minutes being interviewed about your progress

Your anonymity is assured, just like every private client.

Becoming a research client is a great way to help others while gaining valuable insight about your own progress.

Research clients save 25% or more off the normal session rate. Reap the rewards of Personal Yoga training at an amazing discount!

If you’re ready to commit to your health and contribute to other people’s wellbeing contact Emily today.

Personal Yoga Benefits

 

CartwheelAre you thinking about starting a Personal Yoga training program? If so, this is a great article to read before we meet for your FREE initial consultation. It’s based on real-life accounts from former students who have experienced the recalibration of a Personal Yoga training program.

How will my life improve from training with Emily?

You may experience any or all of the following benefits:

  • Feel more comfortable in your body.
  • Stronger, more flexible, more at ease.
  • Less pain, increased mobility.
  • Increased self-esteem.
  • Improved posture, healthier.

Some senior students have even reported growing taller!

You may also feel:

  • Calmer, happier, kinder.
  • Relieved, grateful.
  • Empowered.
  • Sexier.
  • Less anxious.
  • Less angry or frustrated.
  • Confident, knowledgeable.

One student remarked how my approach is like a teacher training. It’s true, I provide teacher training-level information at a fraction of the cost! I believe that everyone who wants a solid yoga training should have access to this information, so they can learn how to do their own life-long, sustainable practice. Studios will sometimes offer “unlimited” yoga specials. What I’m offering is the ultimate form of unlimited Yoga – the ability to practice anytime, anywhere! 

If you’re interested in learning more about how Personal Yoga can benefit you I’d be happy to schedule a phone call or meet for a cup of tea. You can contact me by emailing: mindbodymandala@gmail.com. I look forward to speaking with you!

Self Teacher Study – Find Your Yoga

So I thought I’d share the story of when I first started practicing yoga. I didn’t like it AT ALL and left my first class thinking that yoga just wasn’t for me. This was back before yoga became popular and I was living in my small hometown in Maine. One day I was walking down main street and saw a sign advertising ‘Free Yoga.’

I decided to give it a try… 

I was completely at a loss. The teachers were chanting the whole time and didn’t offer any kind of introduction or provide any printed lyrics to read from. I sat there breathing the heavy incense smoke and feeling totally awkward until it was time to leave. Now I know that I’d stumbled upon a Kirtan, but without any idea of why we were doing this practice it was a pretty tough way to start out.

I left that class thinking that yoga was not for me. 

It took a few years before I tried taking another class. This time it was with a different teacher at another studio. The format was much closer to something that I could wrap my mind around. It was like a gentle dance class and the final meditation was simply wonderful. The teacher was a sweetheart who would always greet her students with a hug. The gems of wisdom that she taught made a lasting impression on me.

After a few classes I was hooked and it became my mid-week ritual. I wanted to share the experience but couldn’t find anyone to go with me. I remember stopping by the town bar before class and trying to rally a few friends to go with me (yeah, no luck there). People were either too tired or just not interested. So I kept going by myself every week.

I recently met a woman who told me point blank that she doesn’t like yoga. She’d only been to one class and said that was enough for her. She coaches a high school girls basketball team and believes that she’s too competitive for yoga. She also admitted that she didn’t like being singled out by the teacher who was giving corrections during class.

I completely understand where she’s coming from, but I still hope that she can find her way to another class someday. She could probably benefit from one-on-one training, where she wouldn’t have to worry about feeling competitive or embarrassed. Ultimately she is the only person who is going to change her mind.

This is a common issue with group yoga classes, where first timers decide to try a class with no idea of what to expect and get burned out from the experience. If you’re new to yoga I encourage you to try a few different styles. You might find this flow chart handy as it could give you an idea of what kind of yoga class would be right for you.

What was your first yoga class like? Was it enjoyable or was there something about it that didn’t suit you? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below:

Flow Chart Yoga

 

Taoist Travel Tips

Taoist Travel Tips Canal St

I had a bit of an adventure today – two train rides and one dash through Manhattan via the subway. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some ways that I streamline these kinds of big travel days.

Travel Tip #1: The Train is Awesome.

I love the train – it beats riding on the bus every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Some of the views between the city and upstate are simply fantastic. The train rocks my world for so many reasons, including:

  • The train is much more time efficient than the bus
  • I can actually work or read without getting motion sickness
  • The chance of getting stuck in traffic in minimal
  • There’s no risk of crazy drivers.

Instead of dealing with all that, I’m can sit back and do a bit of writing while sipping on hot tea.

Travel Tip #2: A thermos makes a trip ten times more enjoyable.

The train is far less stressful than other kinds of travel (except for maybe riding a bike). Airplanes are much more time efficient but the altitude swings are pretty tough on the body. As for boats… despite growing up on the coast of Maine I’m not a huge fan of boats. To each their own, but the train is the best form of Taoist travel that I’ve found so far.

Beacon Waterfall

I call it Taoist travel because Taoism teaches us to move through life much like moving with the current of a river. This doesn’t mean living in complete submission to whatever happens to you – it’s about learning how to engage skillfully and navigate life more effectively.

One example of Taoist travel is to avoid wasting energy by fighting unnecessary battles (this includes dealings with unsavory people). You can see this principle in nature, where animals instinctively know to conserve their energy by traveling the paths of least resistance.

Taoist Travel Tips Emily Seymour

Travel Tip #3: When it comes to stuff, less is always more.

What would you pack for a two month trip? I pretty much live this way. Schlepping my gypsy carriage (which consists of a roller suitcase, backpack, cooler bag and yoga mat) has taught me that as little stuff as I think I might have it’s always too much. Try lugging a suitcase up two flights of stairs in a busy subway station and you’ll know what I mean.

Travel Tip #4: Escalators and elevators are like gold.

As much as possible, try to save yourself from unnecessary strain. Take the escalator or elevator whenever possible. A little hard schlepping never hurt anyone (it probably builds character) but try to balance the effects by switching your carrying arm regularly.

Travel Tip #5: Take your time.

There’s no need to rush. Give yourself plenty of time to figure out where you’re going, to eat slowly, and to find your connections, gates or exits. When you’re able to enjoy the journey your mood improves. You might even find yourself smiling at strangers.

Do you have any Taoist Traveler’s Tips to share?  Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

You might also enjoy reading: More Taoist Travel Tips

Taoist Travel Tips Brooklyn Bridge

St. John USVI

Sunny and Emily St. John Yoga
March 9, 2011

Chi is my Co-Pilot

 

“A genuine smile distributes the cosmic current, Prana to every body cell. The happy man is less subject to disease, for happiness actually attracts into the body a greater supply of the Universal life energy.” – Paramhansa Yogananda

 

I’ve never seen the ocean turn purple before. The sky is a lighter shade of violet smeared with gray clouds and the final sweep of the sunset. Across the bay the islands are beginning to light up. As I’m writing this entry the color of the water changes to indigo.

I’m sitting in my friend Sunny’s apartment on St. John. It’s been almost a week since I arrived in the Virgin Islands. The energy of this place is tangible. A few hours ago I ate a bowl of potato leek soup that I helped Sunny prepare. It left me feeling totally buzzed. She asked me if I wanted to go to a party with her.

“Will there be people there who I can do Tandem yoga with?”

Probably not. So here I am, writing to you and enjoying the sunset. I have to say it’s pretty awesome here. I’ve been practicing yoga every day in Sunny’s kitchen that sits high up overlooking the water. We sit on her porch in the mornings watching the basil and tomatoes grow. Sunny tells me the names of every island in the bay. Hummingbirds and iguanas come to visit us.

I am happy… being… here.

This is the perfect place to write about chi. I’ve been working as a freelance writer on a book about health and energy practices. One of my assignments is to write about what chi (life energy) means to me.

Chi is all around me. It’s inside of me. It’s the feeling of looking at clear turquoise water. It’s the after-effects of hiking up the incredibly steep (!!!) hills. It’s in the sensations in my body when I meditate. It’s the fresh juice from Sunny’s Champion juicer, a sunset swirl of carrot, beet, apple, ginger, lemon. I feel it when I’m laughing.

The sky and the water have turned to black. In the distance the hills are glowing orange and white. The crickets are singing and the evening air is soft and inviting.

I wish I could practice yoga here with all of you.

Anna and Emily Tandem Yoga St. John

 

March 28, 2011

Reflections

 
“Thirty spokes converge upon a single hub;  
It is on the hole in the center that the use of the cart hinges.
 
We make a vessel from a lump of clay;
It is the empty space within the vessel that makes it useful.
 
We make doors and windows for a room;
But it is these empty spaces that make the room livable.
 
Thus, while the tangible has advantages,
It is the intangible that makes it useful.”
 
– Lao Tzu, The Tao Teh Ching
 

I’m inhaling another sunset here in the City of Love. For the past month I’ve been awake at dawn almost every morning. This is what happens whenever I’m in the tropics. Before coming here I received a Reiki treatment from my friend Mandy. She predicted that this place would feel like home to me. It has in ways that I didn’t expect. St. John feels like a hybrid of Maine, Hawaii and Colorado.

It’s another world here. People drive on the left side of the road which does a number on my dyslexia. There are no fast food restaurants or strip malls. The internet is limited here so I’ve been reading a wonderful book called “The Enzyme Factor – How to Live Long and Never be Sick” by Hiromi Shinya.

Very rich food for thought.

I’ve taken to calling this trip Sunny’s Island Boot Camp Adventure. We’ve been hiking, snorkeling and stand-up paddle boarding. We practiced yoga with friends and went dancing. Every night is Friday here.

Sunny has been teaching me about the history of the island and about the slavery uprisings. One morning we hiked to a sacred pool on Reef Bay which sits below the largest waterfall on the island. On the rocks surrounding the pool are petroglyph carvings made by the Taino, the early inhabitants of St. John.

This was a place of ancestor worship. The petroglyph symbols are positioned to reflect in the water so as to represent the inter-dependency of the spiritual and physical worlds. I wanted to meditate there and will go back sometime when there are less tourists.

Three more days until my gypsy caravan moves on. I’m looking forward to coming back. There is an amazing retreat center here and a wonderful community who I would love to continue practicing with.