Here is how we use the acronym STOP in mindfulness:
- Stop – Slow Down; Pause; Realize you are ruminating, reacting, or simply getting ahead of yourself.
- Take a breath – Find the breath; Be more conscious of what is going on in your nervous system; No judgment necessary.
- Open – Expand; Consider the bigger picture; Be present.
- Proceed – Respond consciously; Act intentionally; It’s OK not to know or do much right now.
Use STOP anytime to keep daily stress from building up, especially with the extra pressure of the holidays.
Mindfulness is sometimes referred to as self – recollection. I offer a few simple examples of how this can work, and benefit you in profound ways.
- You are lost in thoughts (a form of virtual reality) and you realize that you are gone, and then direct attention to the feeling of body and breath, room and present moment reality. This is a basic self-regulation skill, it helps to keep the nervous system from unnecessary activation.
- You are talking about something and realize it may not be that appropriate or useful and come back to the point and the attempt to express yourself or dialogue with others. This is a basic relational skill, it helps us build respectful connection.
- You are doing something and notice that it may be a diversion and pause and consider, is this the best way to spend my time right now? This is mindful time management.
- You realize you are anxious or agitated by something or someone and you give yourself permission to acknowledge it, make space for it and make intentional choices regarding it. This is basic emotional intelligence, our emotions provide vital information.
- You realize that persistent memories come to mind and create emotional upset in your body and mind, you notice and breathe and honor what is arising naturally this is the skill of restoration, integrating the past into the present as it is tolerable.
Meditative Yoga Practice Series
Saturday, February 20 – The Fifth Chakra: Heart’s Desire
Saturday, March 26 – The 5 Flows of Prana
Saturday, April 23 – The Third Chakra: City of Gems
Saturday, May 14 – The 5 Mind States & the Breath
This series of practice days grows out of a desire to support our continued healing, growing, and awakening. The beauty of Yoga is the experiential process; this strengthens our connection to inner knowing, the inner teacher or Guru. Longer practice sessions, well-paced and designed, are an important part of our development. These sessions are open to both new and experienced practitioners. Each Saturday will have a similar format yet there will be distinct themes and practices. Here are some other thoughts about how a day of practice can benefit you:
* Extended practice increases your concentration and stamina, which will translate into all you are doing.
* This meditative way of practicing will help you stay in and expand your comfort zone, you will be invigorated rather than exhausted.
* I have taught Days of Mindfulness Practice for many years and see how profoundly it affects people; there is even research that indicates that a day of meditation can affect gene response in a positive and measurable way.
* You will explore and refine your general practice, so you understand anew how Yoga works for you outside the class structure.
$100 for the day or $325 for the series.
Please contact me to register.
Full Day of Meditative Yoga Practice
9:30 – 4:30 $100
This is the first of what will be a series of practice days designed for students who love Meditative Yoga and want more than the 90 minute class experience. The day will include a variety of movement, breathing, sound, and meditation practices; while most practice is solo, there will be some interactive components as well. Pace & sequencing will match the natural flow of the daylight and guide you effortlessly to the deeper healing and regenerative dimensions of Yoga. In honor of the Martin Luther King holiday this month, the theme of our practice day will be ahimsā (non-violence). This is an important principle in Yoga that inspired Ghandi and then King’s civil rights philosophy’s.
Please contact me to register.
Vedic Astrology Highlights Fall 2015 & Super Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse September 27th
We have a Solar and Lunar Eclipse this month. Here are the Highlights of what is UP.
The Solar Eclipse will occur later this night that I write. It is partial and will not be visible to us in the USA. Yet the energy of an eclipse effects the whole planet, perhaps more so where they are visible.
This occurs in the sign of Leo, in the later section of the constellation called Purva Phalguni- it is associated with wealth so there is some buzz in the astrology community about this having impact on the global economy. Some say the wild ride the stock market just took is indicative of this energy fluctuation. Particular effects may be felt for 6 months.
Eclipses are considered inauspicious periods to initiate new endeavors. They are auspicious for spiritual attunement and refinement. As we know, life often insists we do things in spite of the signs and omens. Truly, the key is to have a daily practice that purifies your heart and mind in some way. This is the key to weathering whatever will come.
It is also considered helpful when the solar eclipse happens before the lunar. We always have eclipses in pairs and this time the lunar eclipse will follow and be fully visible for us in Tucson. It is quite powerful as it is a total eclipse and the moon is close to the Earth in its orbit- this is called a super moon. It is also interesting as it happens early in the evening- it will be fully eclipsed around 8pm Tucson time. Easy to witness and meditate upon.
Again, there is lots of lore regarding everything and it is said that it is not good to be outside during an eclipse- that you are personally negatively affected by it. But in this day and age, when we are disconnected from so many natural rhythms, I sense it is a remedy; a way to honor the subtle and the shadow element of life, to witness the celestial phenomenon and strengthen our commitment to light.
The lunar eclipse occurs Sunday night, September 27. It occurs in Pisces, in the section called Uttara Bhadra Pada. It is associated with the flow of water, purification, renewal, and release from long held patterns. It is the water that smooths the stones. I hope you get to experience and enjoy this event in some way.
Mars in Leo: September 16-November 3
Mars is leaving its 2 month sojourn through the sign of Cancer, which is its sign of debility/ difficulty.
This is a big shift for Mars energy. In anyone’s chart Mars signifies raw energy, courage, power, brothers, and land. In the fire sign of Leo the King it regains its sense of being a spiritual warrior. This is very significant if you are Aries or Scorpio Rising or Moon by birth. You will feel empowered again.
Sun in Virgo: September 17-October 17
The Sun will soon change signs- from Leo to Virgo. There is quite a bit of intensity in this yearly visit as Rahu is here and Mercury turns retrograde this same day. September 22-24 are very intense Solar days. Be extra mindful and curious.
Mercury Retrograde: September 17-October 8
Mercury is retrograde in its own sign of Virgo, that is good in ways as it spends more time in one of its places of power and amplifies all kinds of Mercury and Virgo related things: intellectual and organizational activities, service and healing matters especially. It backtracks right into the Sun, full combustion, September 29-30. These are days that Virgo or Mercury people could feel inspired yet depleted. It retrogrades into Rahu October 7-8 and then goes direct. These could be interesting days for Mercury’s mental energy- creativity and innovation abound. But be careful with important decisions. Rahu is a trickster energy!
Wisdom speaker Natasha Korshak, will be at Sacred Space with Stephen Pedone accompanying on gutiar Sunday 8/9/15 at 4:15pm
Natasha will explain to us the foundations, guide us, and help us practice Yoga Nidra also known as iRest (not an apple product). This traditional Yoga practice helps heal ills such as anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and PTSD. Yoga Nidra is a simple and doable meditation that reminds us of our intentions and our potential to break through limiting perceptions that generate stress and tension. Natasha’s teaching will also help us understand how this practice can be applied to daily life.
Natasha Korshak is an Interfaith Contemplative Minister, Yoga Teacher, and Director of the Mindfulness Programs of Tucson.
Stephen Pedone is an aspiring accountant, musician and renaissance man.
In the Vedic understanding of macrocosm and microcosm, our connection to the universe comes from within. The energies of the universe flow through our consciousness and being from the causal to the astral to the physical level. Therefore, in some ways thinking about astrology as up – as an outer phenomenon – is inaccurate. Chew on that as I move on to the news.
One piece of important news is that Jupiter has changed signs. Jupiter takes one year to transit one sign of the zodiac. So we get a different flavor of Jupiter every year. Jupiter is a general signifier of children, teachers, knowledge and wealth. Its natural energy is positive, expansive, joyful. For the last year it was in the sign of Cancer, which is the sign of the moon, mother, emotional nurturance. This is a powerful transit of Jupiter that only happens every 11 years.
Jupiter has now moved into the sign of Leo, the sign of the sun, father, self-expression. Cancer is a water sign, Leo is a fire sign. They are both royal signs, both sattvic signs, meaning when planets are there at birth or by transit- they are inclined towards the good, towards their best nature. So Jupiter in Leo could be very positive for us all. It brings some fire to our minds and our visions, it could improve relations with our father or shine light on our issues with masculine power structures.
It always depends on how your personal chart operates, but reflect on the last year- from last July to now- what was the flavor of Jupiter in Cancer? And envision what it might be this year- something similar but more masculine. Also, if you want to explore how the planets affect your subtle energy- what was the recent period of July 8 to July 18th like? This 10 day period Jupiter was passing over a sensitive knot in the zodiac- it can confuse us energetically and bring up deeper issues. I activated a back injury during the time. I knew the dates and was attempting to pay attention, but it wasn’t until my back ached and stopped me from doing that I got the real message. Don’t stir the pot, slow down and feel deeper, otherwise you will be forced to listen. Nothing serious for me, just another reminder of how this subtle energy practice works.
The other news right now is that Saturn is preparing to change course. It is currently transiting the sign of Scorpio. It had moved to 10 degrees and then stopped and turned retrograde in mid-March. Saturn is the slowest visible planet, it takes 30 years for it to transit the entire zodiac, requiring 2 ½ years to transit one sign. When Saturn moves retrograde, things seem to go even slower. It can make us feel like we are standing still in some way or losing ground.
Saturn in Scorpio is not an easy transit in general as Scorpio is the sign related to our deepest karmas- in yoga what is called our vasanas- and it is ruled by Mars. Saturn and Mars are both difficult energies, so in a way the entire transit brings them up against each other in our own being. Saturn is more an old, withholding, cold, critical energy, Mars is more youthful, brash, hot, and reactive energy. This is a great time to be looking at this in your life. What has felt stuck or blocked since March? How may it be related to a core psycho-emotional issue for you? As Saturn slows, stops and turns direct July 30-August 4 you have the potential to get new traction. Things will start to move a bit again, take this time to clarify what is the right direction.
One other briefer planetary happening is Venus is stopping and turning retrograde in Leo, July 25. This intensifies Venus energy for a while. It will also be in exact conjunction with Jupiter in Leo on August 2-7. When you look up in the night sky, you will see the 2 bright planets merging, almost looking like one bright star. When planets optically connect like this, we call it a war in Vedic astrology, the 2 energies battling each other. It can bring extra brilliance but it more often brings dissipation on some level- one energy vanquishing another. So these are days to simply be extra mindful. Like I was noting with my Jupiter experience in mid-July.
One final thought about Venus, if you know your chart and you are Taurus or Libra rising or moon, you are more affected by Venus’s transits. August 11 to 15 are also tricky Venus days.
I was introduced to MBSR over 20 years ago by a colleague who had just completed his psychology doctoral dissertation on MBSR. I was already teaching yoga so I thought I knew what mindfulness was, but as I began to notice through my own practice, mindfulness was different. It was more bare bones, it helped me rest and it helped me see and be in a new and powerful way.
So I came to appreciate the practice of mindfulness itself, which MBSR fosters in a secular and universal way. And I was also deeply moved by how it was being taught in the MBSR curriculum. The way the teacher positioned themselves in the circle as a guide rather than an authority, the way participants were invited to speak about what was real for them and come to their own insights, the way the Eastern origins of the meditation practices became tools for looking deeply at our humanity.
Integrative Restoration or iRest is a newer mind/body method pioneered by Richard Miller, a clinical psychologist with a deep interest in Eastern meditation models. Like Jon Kabat-Zinn (MBSR’s pioneer) who blended his personal experience with Buddhism and Hatha Yoga with his scientific training to create a curriculum that met a powerful need in health care; Richard Miller has done the same. One notable difference that is that iRest’s foundation draws more from the Yoga paradigm than the Buddhist paradigm.
iRest’s origins are less academic and clinical, in that it is not embedded in a university medical center where its development was documented from the beginning. Yet, iRest has developed into a protocol that now qualifies as evidence based and is the subject of numerous studies for its treatment potential for trauma, pain, addiction relapse, compassion fatigue, insomnia, memory, and learning. There are currently over 30 iRest programs in VA’s and Military settings across the US.
For me personally, I find the 2 methods distinct yet entirely complimentary. For several years I have taught both MBSR and iRest, and have seen students benefit from the combination. If I were to sum it up I would say that MBSR is an amazing tool for grounding us, for helping us connect to the moment and learn from what is right here and now. We only have moments to live. iRest is deeply relaxing and expansive, it gives us tools to see our difficulties and distractions as pointers towards a deeper clarity and a healthy resolution.
As the Spring arrives in Tucson I am reminded of a short poem written by the Twelfth Century Zen Master Wu-Men:
Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.
I heard this poem read in a meditation class, early in my mindfulness journey, and it has always stayed with me. I do not know what it meant to me then, now I will simply say that it makes me happy and peaceful. A reminder that my busy mind is the obstacle and with awareness of the present moment, everything has its own beauty and significance. Consider it yourself, what might it be like to have a mind that is not clouded by unnecessary things?
The Spring 2015 Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR Program orientation session will be here soon this coming Monday March 23rd. If you are interested in learning more please register and come.
The Day of Mindfulness for Alumni will be on Saturday May 9th, if you would like to plan to attend please contact me.
We will be announcing Summer programs in the next newsletter, we usually do shorter programs in the summer due to vacation and travel.