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The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


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A Gratitude Meditation for the Holidays

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Thanksgiving! Gratititude, shmatitude. To what extent do we really feel gratitude during the holidays? Do we feel it deep down in our bones? If not, then its time to get serious about cultivating this incredible emotion… and in order for this to happen, it’s going to take some ACTION! 🙂

As the holiday season arrives, schedules fill up and life gets pretty crazy. Things to do, people to see, cakes to cook and presents to wrap. While the list of “things we have to do” piles up it becomes easy to forget what the season is really about. We often get lost of the hustle and bustle of the season and forget that the best present we can give to the people around us is to actually be present in each moment.

In order to stay present/become present, it is more important than ever to stay on top of our own personal care in order to be the best people we can possibly be.

By doing a quick gratitude meditation in the morning we can ensure we will face the day like Zen angels.

Studies show that people feel the happiest when they are experiencing an internal sense of Gratitude.

Happy US=happy THEM.

 We are going to generate this sense of gratitude for the blessings in our life by creating a gratitude list. By having the gratitude list ready made at your bedside, alter, or breakfast nook, it will serve as a morning reminder, every day, to take the time to be quiet and to reflect on the day ahead while getting filled up with yummy gratitude!

Directions:

Think of 5-10 people, things, life-situations that you are grateful for. We are taking a look at the people and things in our lives that we experience every day and we are going to reflect on how special they are (even if they drive us crazy sometimes…we are focusing on the positives!)

Write down the thing/person you are grateful for.

I am grateful for my amazing family.

Next,  think of a way to SHARE the gratitude with your loved ones through an ACTION. Then create a positive affirmation.

I am grateful for my amazing family…I will take show this to them today by taking care of them care of them with love and a gentle smile. I will do my best to be of service to them and to make them feel good about themselves.

By thinking about this in the morning and then going out into the day… when someone or some situation in your family pops up and you need to be there… you will view this as a pleasant surprise and deal with it with gratitude and love…

Next:

Get a piece of blank white paper and some markers, crayons, colored pencils, whatever you like! Write out your top 6-7 things and decorate the list, making it a fun beautiful thing that you can use for you morning meditations for the rest of the season.

When you get up in the morning, save your self at least 3-5 minuets to sit quietly and to reflect on these things before the day starts. Just try it and see if it makes a difference!

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*** Please visit Taozi Tree Yoga on Facebook for details on Taozi’s travels, teaching schedule, and more inspiration!***


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Silent Meditation: Vipassana in Australia

Getting Silent to Find Peace.

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This article was written by a dear friend Kate Morton, who lives “down under”! Kate  lives in sunny Brisbane, Queensland Australia. Kate was introduced to Yoga at the tender age of fifteen to help her manage her asthma. As life took hold, adventure and work took her overseas travelling and working for many years. A busy life and Yoga fell by the wayside. She loves finding healthy living options for the mind, body and soul and is now reconnecting with what makes the soul tick.

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 I had the pleasure of meeting her while we were in Australia in the fall of 2011. She is an inspiring women and to see the effects that a dedicated yoga and mediation pracitice have… it is truly inspiring! And here her piece begins:

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I recently undertook my first seven day silent Meditation retreat. Yes… silent and no eye contact. A gregarious extravert I can be, this was going to be extremely challenging. My idea of meditation was a 5 minute lie on the couch..then being allowed to turn on the tv.

What was the motivation?

Meditation has come up a healing strategy for me for many years, so time to address it. So my motivation was to experience and learn the benefits of daily mediation, shift something, restore energy having experienced Adrenal fatigue for 12 months  … and someone to cook great vegetarian food, and that it was.

Was it what I thought it would be?

Possibly something I could of looked into more before I committed to booking in 5 days before it began, but hey when do I ever, I just go do it!!! And glad I did.

We have a reputable Vipassana Meditation retreat in beautiful Pimono Sunshine Coast, QLD Australia, a few friends saying it was life changing….but pretty strict….not something I needed as being too hard on myself, probably a result of the Adrenal fatigue,  was not the idea. So an alternative was run by the Australian Dharma Insight group. Finding a comprehendible comparison or outline on either is difficult now I look for information, making it difficult to explain …something I now remember when listening to friends and their experiences.

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What was it?

A 7 day Meditation retreat done in silence. ‘Why’ I hear some people say.

Quote : (and excuse me if you already know) …Insight Meditation (also known as Vipassana) refers to both Buddhist meditation practices and a largely Western form of Buddhism. A feature of Insight Meditation as a form of Buddhism is that it is either free of ritual or has minimal ritual. Aims of Insight Meditation include coming to a deep understanding of ourselves, and developing compassion for all living beings.  There are different styles of Insight Meditation. Some common threads are that they all place importance on acting in an ethical way, and they all have a focus on settling the mind, developing a level of clarity, and looking carefully at one’s experience.

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We had those practicing style opportunities and I was in an environment where structure was provided. The schedule included a 6am wake up (reasonable I thought), eight 45 minute opportunities during the day to sit, in silence, in the meditation hall. Of course you could sit additionally to this. An evening talk. Breaks for meals, a bell was rung to indicate time to move onto the next session. And an opportunity for individual conversations with teacher.

All sessions were optional, not compulsory and being in the beautiful (cold)  hinterland off the Gold Coast, QLD Australia, lots of long walks with nature were in order when the sun appeared.

Vegetarian meals were provided, we had a daily 30 minute job – mine was breakfast clean up so there was a necessary opportunity for some talk then.

So the mixture of structure and flexibility was great and the teachers adjusted to the groups needs.

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What did I experience ?

I can now sit comfortably, the perfect stool and sitting position helps. I averaged 5 sits a day and 45 minutes a day got easier – I wasn’t going to beat myself up. I had naps when I needed. And ate like a trooper. I put on weight that I needed to put on.

The biggest challenge was ‘this is weird’ ..no eye contact felt like I was surrounded by a room of zombies. Am I doing this right? Gosh they are serious about this stuff. Who are these people? I’ve got some great ideas of how I could renovate the kitchen….Eventually my thoughts did slow down after some particularly strong emotions and breakdown that needed my attention and assistance from teachers . The realization being that I can be in a pretty dark place after a shit year and I was hearing myself laugh again …even in silence.

In talking to the other students on the last day in order to re-acclimate to the outside world, I was hypersensitive to engulfing myself in others ‘stuff’, so I focused on feeling the joy others were experiencing and was quite surprised in their intrigue how I survived as a first timer. Maybe they had forgotten their maiden retreat now they had become regular ‘retreaters’ .

So I left with Trust and patience, trust to reduce the effort for things to work, as a result the sit became easier. And it was a great debrief and giggle with my new friend on the drive home.

What now?

I write this in a period of transition, but I can’t help but feel optimistic about the future. Will I join the Sunday night mediation group? Will I have more energy and focus, motivation and will meditation be a permanent part of my daily routine? Who knows. I certainly enjoyed the process of settling the mind and like the benefits.

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I know what these silent retreats involve and now I have a stronger interest in Yatras – silent meditation 6 days walks. Combining my joy of walking, exploring new areas and peace of the silence.

So if the aims of Insight Meditation include coming to a deep understanding of ourselves, and developing compassion for all living beings, this is certainly a great way to stop and take time out to BE.

In the days since returning from the retreat, some notice being able to maintain an incredible level of focus and a sharpening of all the senses. I’ve noticed being grounded and less flighty, maybe I can call it a glow. But is it waning. Time to get back on the stool.

These experiences allow me to feel confident in saying there is something in meditation for everyone who is brave enough to give it a go and sit…….in silence.

*** Please visit Taozi Tree Yoga on Facebook for more on Taozi’s travels, inspiration, and yoga pictures!***


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UNIVERSE, answer the following questions: NOW!

A rant from my heart and spiritual based solutions that work…

Where is my life going to happen? When is my life going to happen? What am I going to do!?

Where? London? Moscow? Rishikesh? LA? Denver?

When? This week? Next month?  Next year?

What? Yoga teacher? Mosaic maker? Mother? Student?

Sheeeesssh! I feel upside down.

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It was due time I post an original, thoughtful post. I haven’t known what to write because, honestly, I’m up in the air, upside down and inside out… Uncomfortable. I have so many questions about life and, what will become obvious from this piece; I am getting impatient for the answers.

 The first 4 weeks of utter life uncertainty I understood. I got that it is “all a part of the plan”.  I saw that the universe was dishing out an uncomfortable hand and to accept it in kind, but now, I am getting tired. Uncomfortable… incredibly. Tired of waiting on the answers. Where? When? What? We have been waiting in this middle ground of complicated unknowingness for a long time. And time is ticking away (visa concerns with my fiancé who is British). Too long this wait has been! At least according to my earthly schedule, way too long. In God’s world I realize it is all, still, just as its supposed to be.

 (Rant begins) Listen, after nearly 2 years of globetrotting I am ready to stop, to settle. Those of you that have seen me recently, know this. Travel shmavel. The adventure has been fun. Amazing, Incredible. Stupendous. Thank you God for it (really I mean that from the bottom of my gut). But please… please can it be over? I know we are not supposed to pray for selfish things but I think I can be of better service to humanity once I have friends I can see on a regular basis, neighbors, and all that other normal stuff! Blogging has been GREAT (Its been a year by the way so HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TAOZI TREE YOGA!) I have loved sharing with people, getting feedback and just getting to know people better…. But honestly, I can’t teach a great asana class or have some coffee with all of you, as much as I’d love that.

Friends. Community. Home. I am craving it. I am ready to stop travelling like this.  Not ready to give up the adventure, but living out of suitcases and boxes? Yes I am ready to stop that. A different bed every week? Lack of stability? 2 YEARS!!? Does that make sense? I mean I want a SPICE CABINET for goodness sakes. (Rant over).

 Now that we are at home “waiting” my symptoms resemble that of stress and anxiety (can you tell? Haha)… How could echem-echem (clear my throat) I…Miss Taozi Tree Yoga be anxious? I mean we are yoga people. Practice every day, load up on veggies, and even meditate! So what is going on here?

The test. A test. One of many tests. Can I decipher the message inherent in our uncomfortable state of affairs? Can I see that God has laid this out in front of us to see how we handle it? Ummmm. Yes. Yes I can.

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 Honestly. I can. But it is a process and this is how it goes:

 I see the “problem”. I need to first see the root cause of my stress or anxiety, in this particular case, it is uncertainty and fear about not having the answers to some key life questions. I can clearly see how this fear swells up particularly when I am in an “Earthly” spot.  Fear of the unknown and impatience combined with a growing list of things to do for our wedding (getting married in Mexico in 4 months!), while attempting to get organized for the big move to… oh yeah that’s right, we have no idea. Lots going on, lots to do. Lots of “stress” and “anxiety”.

Here is the good news and I hope it can inspire some of you. Yoga. This is what I do. Getting a CLEAR perspective on reality. Uncertainty and stress is caused simply from my limited perspective on the situation and I can change my perception. Here is how.

 ACTION.

DESPITE the uncertainty and the awkwardness of it all, I can DO things to change the way I feel. I can take ACTION. And I do. I am. I do all the things I know I am supposed to do to stay centered and to remain confident in myself, especially at a time like this. Here is a list of the PRACTICAL things I have been doing to stay as calm as I can and to enjoy the process regardless of how up in the air is all feels.

MEDITATION.

Here are a few different specific things I may do at altar to help relieve the stress and get a clearer perspective on my own realty.

  • Thinking HAPPY THOUGHTS! I have had enough of these thoughts :“I am worried, I am stressed, I am scared…” rolling endlessly around in my head. I honestly believe that the seeds we water are the seeds that grow. So if I am thinking the same negative thoughts over and over, they will continue to get bigger. In my meditation I can make the effort to create a positive mantra. “I am right where I am supposed to be and I am happy. I am so happy and grateful for the uncertainty and the unknown! I am thrilled about it. ;)”

  • I smile gently to myself. By turning the corners of my mouth up and breathing deeply into my soul. My body automatically thinks, “Oh she is smiling so she is happy!” And then it carries this happiness deep inside. Faking it works. Trust me.

  • Visualizations. Lately it has been on getting GROUNDED. With all of this travelling and flying around the world. With all of this uncertainty it is more important then ever for me to sit right where I am at. In the moment. On the ground. I feel myself heavy and rooted to the earth and then the power of the earth streaming into me. Then I visualize my outer self looking down on me gently with compassion. With out fail my perspective on life gets cleared. I am here to breath, to practice and to be of service.

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 SERVICE to others.

 This can be tough as we have been on the road so much. How does one be of service in their day to day life? IF you are lucky enough to be in one specific spot (lucky you 😉 here are three potential easy things you can do to get you out of your own head.

  • Getting a commitment at the local jail to offer yoga classes or art classes.

  • Getting a commitment at the local “old peoples home” if there is one near by and just go hang out with any one who is approaching the end of their life that just needs some love and attention. I guarantee you will forget your woes and feel much better about what is going on in your life.

  •  Make a casserole for a friend in need. If you have a friend that is sick or has something crazy going on in their life, you could offer to deliver them a home cooked meal. This will give you plenty of time to cook loving food in your kitchen and deliver it with a smile, and it will make their day!

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 TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.

  • GREEN FOOD! Perhaps consider a fast of some sort? I told this to my sister Leah a hundred time when she was getting ready to leave Uganda. LOAD up on veggies. Lots of them. So many. This combined with serious water will make you glow from the inside out and you will just feel better.

  •   ASANA, running, swimming… walking… get active and do something physical that will take your mind off of the issue/stress at hand and focus the energy on making yourself feel better. By working your body out, this will lead to better sleep.

  •  SLEEP: If like many other people in the planet, when you feel stressed about something or under pressure, sleep may become a problem. By exercising and meditating, sleeping will be easier, try to get at least 7 hours a night… No one feels good with a lack of sleep.

 PATIENCE.

This too shall pass. By simply coming to terms with the fact that the one thing that is constant in life is change. The place you are at today that feel however it feels will inevitably shift and you in turn will feel differently about it. By perceiving the stress at hand in this way, you can see it impermanence and it loses its power. Patience is a key factor in this. Knowing that what our ideal time schedule may be, is not Gods. So we work with Gods with acceptance and gratitude and know that what ever is coming is exactly as God wants it.

 FAITH.

This is a tricky one and a faith in a power greater than your self is necessary for this to become a reality. The power can be whatever you choose it to be, but by believing that this power has granted you the blessed life you live and will take care of you no matter what, makes a big difference in the way we rise to meet life’s challenges or stresses. Again, I realize that this may be really challenging for people when they are in a particularly tough spot, or have no experience with the concept but I promise that is gets easier with time and with evidence of actually existing. By having the faith of a mustard seed, gentle shifts can occur in your life with the power to shake mountains. Practice, try it, have faith. Give up the struggle and give it over to this power so that you can….

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 RELAX.

You are already exactly where you are supposed to be. Instead of approaching this entire distressing episode as a path to a goal that is somewhere else. I am meditating and eating greens and sleeping well so that I can reach point C, over there, far away where things are good. Avoid this thought pattern and instead approach the process it in the moment. Knowing that right now you are alright and  you are already exactly where you are supposed to be. Happiness is not a destination over there. You are already there.

 So after putting aside my stress and connecting with realty, I begin to see the real lesson more clearly;

 The lesson…

It doesn’t matter where you live or what you are doing or WHO you are doing it with as long as you do what ever it is you are doing with purpose, with love, and FAITH… So where does all this leave me? Right where I started, in a space of total uncertainty and “chaos”.  How do I choose to face it? With faith.

 God, I know you have us under your wing. I know that where ever we end up it is where you want us to be. I know it will all happen on your own time. I trust you God. I trust and trust and trust.

 Thank you for taking the time to read this.  I hope that my decision to continue to have faith inspires you to do the same. If there is anything in your life that feels uncomfortable or uncertain causing anxiety or stress… Can you try some of these simple suggestions? Can you give it to God too? Can you just have faith that it will all work out as it is supposed too? Let me know, I would love to hear your experiences, they will inspire me to keep on keeping on.

 Oh, and now I can answer my questions from the beginning of the rant:

 Where is my life going to happen? HERE.

When is my life going to happen? NOW.

What am I going to do!?  THIS.

*** Please visit Taozi Tree Yoga on Facebook for more on Taozi’s travels, inspiration, and yoga pictures!***