Saturday, April 27, 2013

HW420-Exercises for Wellness and Healing -Unit 6

·  Practice the universal Loving Kindness (meditation) exercise on p. 93.

When I completed this exercise I felt an increase level of connectedness.  I also felt a greater level of responsibility to my part in helping those I work with reach their health and wellness goals.  However, what I didn’t feel this time was the helplessness of being only one person who wants to make a difference.  Something about knowing that we are all in this course and working on loving kindness meditation made me feel that we are collectively making a difference. 

·  Describe the exercise and assessment process. What did you discover about yourself? What area have you chosen to be a focus of growth and development? Why? What are some specific exercises or activities that you can implement to foster greater wellness in this area?

This week I chose to focus on the relationship I have with my children.  A few weeks ago we were on spring break and we had such a great time.  It reminded me how much I missed being self-employed and able to work my schedule around their schedule.  When I went back to work after spring break, I felt divided.  Now, having a full-time job and still having my wellness business and being in school offers a different set of challenges.  The weekends typically are when we get to spend the most time together.  What I discovered through the exercise is that I was carrying around a lot of guilt about the having less time to spend with the kids.  After doing this exercise I decided to include them more in what I am learning.  I have done the loving-kindness exercise with them and also the subtle mind meditation.  I have noticed one thing that has changed is right away is that they seem to be having fewer disagreements, which is truly a help to me.  I plan to continue to work with them in these areas so that they will have these tools much earlier in life than I did to prepare for their place in there world.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

HW420- Subtle Mind

Compare and contrast the Loving Kindness exercise and the Subtle mind exercise. Explain your experience including the benefits, frustrations etc.

I again love the subtle mind exercise.  This is an exercise that I am more familiar with and is in line with how I typically do my meditation.  I love following my breath and what unfolds each time I sit in meditation.  It is for me the one space where I am not checking off a to do list or am in constant motion besides when I am in my yoga practice.  I loved watching what came up during my subtle mind experience.  I had a really busy week at work so I was at work when I first practiced.  At first, I was concerned that someone would come to my office but fortunately, I wasn’t disturb, which is unusual.  It took me a minute to relax into the feeling, but once I did I had fewer thoughts coming to the surface.  I stayed on my focal point for most of the exercise once I let go of the feeling of possibly being interrupted.  The rhythm of the breath brought me into a quite peaceful state while I was in a place that is the complete opposite of peace.  When I finished I felt quite refreshed. 

As for the difference between the loving kindness and the subtle mind, I found the subtle mind exercise much easier for me.  I did practice loving kindness twice a day all last week and it wasn’t until the end of the week when I was able to allow the feelings of those who have harmed me to come into my heart and be release without event.  Each time I would get to that part earlier in the week it made my chest contract and my breath change.  I wanted to continue to practice loving kindness until I could fully embrace the teachings.  It took a few days of twice a day practice before I could really feel that shift and I was fully able to embrace that concept.  I came away feeling a bit more balanced in that area.  I know that I still don’t have it down but I think awareness and continued practice will make all the difference. 

Discuss the connection of the spiritual wellness to mental and physical wellness. Explain how the connection is manifested in your personal life.

All my life I have been physically active. I come from a long line of very unhealthy people.  I spent much of my youth being sick.  My family has it all from diabetes, to hypertension, high cholesterol to various forms of cancer.  After spending much of my youth being sick and missing school and going to various family member funerals, I decided that I was going to improve my health.  I decided that I wasn’t going to spend my life taking medications and waiting for something to change.  I became more committed to staying active having been a cheerleader and a track runner in high school, I continue to workout throughout college and still to this day.  I found yoga 15 years ago and practice almost daily as well as instruct yoga classes.  I also became a vegetarian over 20 years ago and I haven’t had the cold or flu in over 10 years.   My commitment to my physical wellness was not just about looking a certain way, it came from my desire to not spend my life medicated.  Through my physical wellness, I grew mentally.  Having maintained a level of physical wellness throughout my life, I improved my mental wellness.  I feel however, that much of my mental awareness came from yoga.  I remember when I fell into my first yoga class I was a complete mess working 14-hour days six days a week.  I was a junk food vegetarian and a chronic insomniac.  Though I was physical well I wasn’t listening to my body.  And though I desired not to be sick, I still didn’t make the connection between my physical fitness and my nutritional intake.  I took for granted that because I was running, swimming and working out that I was healthy. My first yoga class kicked my behind thoroughly.  I was never so challenged by anything at the time.  I thought I was in shape and I really started to look at my ideas of health after that class.  I started listening to my body and had my first good nights sleep in a long time.  After my second class, I started having broccoli cravings.  My mind  started to go from being on overdrive to calmness.  My regular fitness routine became more impactful.  And it became less of a routine that I just did but I felt more connected to the exercises.  I think that is where my mental wellness started to grow.  After two years of practice, I wanted to dig deeper.  I wanted to be able to sit in lotus pose and have this level of calm that I saw with others in my class.  I wanted to know what meditation was all about.  I wanted peace and calm in my inner world.  I loved my work but it was consuming me being that I was a type A workaholic type.  I could no longer justify the imbalance that was happening.  I decided that I was going to get certified in yoga so I could share all the benefits that I received.  I started to learn meditation and again, I felt like I was at square one just like when I began my yoga (asana) practice.  I couldn’t find 2 seconds of space in my thought process unless I was actually doing the physical practice.  However, just like the physical yoga practice, I was challenged and needed more and that’s how I was led to the spiritual connection.  I began to understand how the breath, postures, meditation and study all contribute to this healing system that we call yoga.  After many years of study and practice, I am still learning and still finding the connections between the mind, body and spirit.  My goal is to keep practicing, studying and being open to all that I can be in this life.  I think that is what it means to be well.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

HW-420-Unit 4 Loving-Kindness Exercise

  1. Describe your experience. Did you find it beneficial? Difficult? Why or why not? Would you recommend this to others? Why or why not?
I enjoyed this loving-kindness exercise.  I love love and always say that I am a love cheerleader.  I started this exercise with thoughts of my dad, knowing how he prays for us and gives to my sisters and me anything he can so openly and supportively.  I always pray that I can be that giving and open throughout my life.  I know that for this he expects so little in return and I know that is what being a parent is and it is because of him that I understand that.  I have always been and extremely giving person and it is because I learned that lesson from my father.  After that I began to focus on myself and allowing that love to radiate through me, so much so I felt quite overwhelmed with love and support.  It was beautiful.  As I begin to take that same love and support and send it to those I feel that need it, I realize that I have some many people whom I would like to help that it became really easy to imagine where to send the love in my heart to.  The challenge with this exercise was taking into my heart the hurt of my loved ones and sending it back out as love.  Though I believe in this practice, when it was instructed I felt the flow shift when I was asked to do it.  I didn’t know if my heart could handle the challenges with some of my family members and the pain and suffering of so many women and children in the world.  I just took a really deep breath and continued to send this loving support out into the world.  I will continue to the loving-kindness exercise for the rest of the week and see what happens.  I would recommend this exercise to others especially those around me who get stuck in their “why do bad things always happen to me” cycle of thinking. 
  1. What is the concept of "mental workout"? What does the research indicate are the proven benefits of a mental workout? How can you implement mental workouts to foster your psychological health?
The concept of the mental workout is described by Dacher in two phases: one is the loving-kindness exercise and the second is the subtle mind exercises.  He instructs us to work with the loving-kindness exercises in order to get beyond our  self-centered thinking and elevate our psychospiritual self.  He discusses how loving-kindness attracts loving-kindness, which I think is what everyone really wants to have in their lives.  He then talks about how we can focus next on the subtle mind, which reminds me of a quote I see all the time when I read Yoga Sutras by Patanjali.  It states, “Yogah-cittavrtti-nirodhah” which means, “Yoga is the cessation of the mind’s fluctuations.”  The goal is to eliminate the busyness of the mind and attachment to all of the consistent flow of thoughts, feelings and images to allow us to find a deeper level of consciousness. 

Research shows that the mental Olympians who have mastered these techniques have a higher level of gamma wave activity in the brain.  It also shows a mental fortitude that is not subject to mind fluctuations or mental distress and the expansions of health and healing capabilities. 

I think the best way to implement these mental workouts is to practice first the loving-kindness exercises then once that becomes easier move towards working on the subtle mind activities.  My goal is to try to practice these exercises in the morning and evening.  Since I am a high-energy person, I know that doing them after some physical exercises in the evening will work best for me.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

HW-420-Unit 3 The Well-being of Tiffany

  1. Based on your reflections, and on a scale of 1 to 10 (ten being optimal wellbeing), where do you rate your A-physical wellbeing, B-spiritual well-being, C-psychological well-being? Why?
I would rate my physical wellbeing at an 8.  The reason I choose an 8 is because I am just getting back on track with my physical fitness goals.  I found the first of the year quite a challenge because I was dealing with an increase in clientele in my yoga classes, my children’s schedules as well as a demanding workload in school and work.   In my yoga practice, I set a monthly goal to work on a pose until I am able to really feel balanced in that pose.  I also run a few times a week and am working on my next 10k.  To prepare, I am running 3 times a week and will increase my miles and frequency as I get closer to the race.  Since, I am only taking one class this term, I am back on track with my fitness goals. 

I would rate my spiritual wellbeing at an 8 as well.  During the first quarter of the year, when it seemed my schedule was bursting at the seams, my meditative practice is what helped me through.  I would take few minutes to breath and align myself before I proceeded with my daily demands.  I would like to improve my meditative practice, however, by increasing the amount of time I can sit in silence. 

I like to think that my psychological well-being is quite good.  I am not ready yet to say it is a 10 but I will give myself a 9.  The reason, I choose 9 is because there are not a lot of situations that take me out of my optimistic and positive view.  Typically, if my mental state is low its because I am tired.  I try to approach everything even obstacles with positivity.  I believe you get what you give so I want to make sure that I am always giving the goodness that I would like to see.  I think the reason I have a healthy mental state is because I do the work to maintain it.  I try to stay physically well and spiritual well so that translates to my mental health as well.  I surround myself with good people and have a great connection with my children and my family.  I also keep a journal, which helps me pour out anything that hinders my mental flow. 
  1. Develop a goal for yourself in each area (physical, spiritual, psychological).
My physical goal is to be able to run my 10k in less time than last year.  I would like to complete the race in 72 minutes this year. 
My spiritual goal is to more time for my meditative practice.  I currently meditate 30 minutes per day.  I would like to meditate one hour daily. 
My psychological goal is to make sure that I maintain my positive outlook at work.  I currently work in an environment with quite a few unhealthy people who keep a lot of negativity going. 
  1. What activities or exercise can you implement in your life to assist in moving toward each goal?
I will use a goal setting tool (;education;goal-setting) I got from Lululemon when I was one of their yoga ambassadors.  This tool has helped me with my personal, career and health goals.  Working with Lululemon staff help me develop my 1-year, 5-year and 10-year S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) goals.  So taking my physical, spiritual and psychological goals from above, I’ve come up with the following:

1.     I complete 6 miles in 72 minutes by May 31st.
2.     I complete a daily 1-hour meditation by June 1st.
3.     I read my list of daily affirmations from April 6th - April 29th.
  1. Complete the relaxation exercise The Crime of the Century. To hear this exercise, click here. Describe your experience. (What it beneficial? Frustrating? etc.)
I truly enjoyed this exercise as well.  It reminds me of a chakra meditation class I attended.  And though I have done chakra meditation and am familiar with the chakra system, I never realized that the chakras were the same colors as the rainbow until I did this exercise.  My favorite part of this exercise was the affirmations we were asked to think about when we transitioned to the next color.  I felt really connected to the affirmations of each region we traveled to.  After completing the exercise, I felt really focused and connected for the rest of the day.  I felt more clear when I was reading our assignments and felt less distracted and more open to the feeling of peace and calm.  I was extremely productive that day and have since listened two more times.  I am loving it!