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.