Learning to meditate–a new, less-boring way!

A friend of my mom’s grew up in Thailand and is now raising her children in the States. She often talks about how, in her country, children grow up learning how to meditate and breathe therapeutically. As a result, kids are able to develop the skills to control stress, anxiety and to be in the present moment. When she left her home, the lady was shocked to learn that people in America grow up without any instruction with these practices. It doesn’t seem coincidental that the  rates of depression, anxiety and premature death are so much higher in the USA than Thailand. As a country  that is constantly about “more more more” I can only imagine what it would be like if we had a foundation similar that of the Thai background. Anyway, this woman brings her kids to a meditation center weekly so they can grow up with these skills ingrained in them, similar to how it would have been back home. The center happened to be free of cost and not too far away from me–so naturally we had to give it a go. I’m really not one to meditate–quite honestly I find it very boring and a huge waste of perfectly good time. I’d rather go workout or take a nap rather than sit for 15 minutes straight trying to “feel” my breath. It’s difficult–and being the impatient person that I am–I wasn’t “captured” enough to put the time in to master it.

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But this practice, called Masasati Meditation, is different. They utilize two fundamental practices–arm movement and walking. I liked it simply because it gives you something to DO. Rather than focusing the breath, there is a set sequence of motions that one makes with their arms. After practicing for a while, the movements become fluid, and you meditate by focusing on this movement alone. You can also perform this meditation while walking–focusing on the step and pausing for a breath before turning. 

After a brief introduction at the center where we were taught the basic motions and meaning behind them, we were allowed to enter the meditation room and put our new skills to use. Not gonna lie–when first entering the room I almost lost it laughing. There were people sitting on pillows. legs folded, performing the motions in an almost robotic manner. Behind them, other people paced slowly back and worth, their faces blank–kind of like they were possessed–I really didn’t think I could do it to be honest. But because they had taken the time to teach us the practice, I covered my smirk and plopped myself down on a pillow. I started doing the arm motions, at first focusing really hard to remember them and still trying to hold back my laughter as I spotted my boyfriend beginning the motions out of the corner of my eye. 

As time went on, the movement because mindless, and I really started to feel relaxed–almost numb. When thoughts would enter my mind (worries, what I would eat for lunch, etc.) I’d bring myself back to my movement–what I was doing in the present. I honestly started to really like it. In that dimly lit, earthy room I felt completely relaxed–for once my mind wasn’t soaring to everything else–I was just there, appreciating that time.

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I can definitely see how mastery of this practice would be so useful in life. It teaches you to connect your mind with your body–and that’s something difficult for many. Think about it–we’re always doing this that and the other think while thinking about this that and the other thing–the furthest one can be from being present and in sync. This is what leads to all the anxiety, irrational fears and stress. If we can own the ability to control our minds, to learn that emotions and ideas are just that–thoughts we can own the ability to stay calm and stable despite external circumstances. We can simply being aware of the “now”. That being said–I liked doing this for about 15 minutes or so–not a whole hour! But seriously– I would give it a try–especially if you have attempted meditation and struggled with the traditional “breathing” or listening to tranquil music routine. 

Curious? Check out Mahasati Meditation here–keep an open mind, I know it looks boring/pretty stupid–but you have to get past that.

 

Alright now onto something more people will probably care about–food! I recently made this for breakfast and it was hot, filling and delish! Adapted from Natalie Hodson

Protein Oatmeal Soufflé 

1/4 cup gluten free rolled oats (old fashioned, not instant)

1 scoop vanilla protein of choice

1 tbsp ground flax seed

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp stevia in the raw (or 2 dropper fuels of liquid stevia) + more to taste

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond)

1 tbsp plain greek yogurt

1/3 cup or 1 small container unsweetened apple sauce

1/2 mashed banana

*Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a single serve-ramkin and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool a bit and eat up!

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I stumbled upon this blog and was delighted to find so many creative strength circuit routines. They’re all decently quick, about 30-40 minutes in total to complete–perfect cause I get bored quickly. If I’m going to do strength training, the only way I can possibly stick with it is if I don’t fall into routine and keep it fresh. I did this one a few days ago–it was unique and fast-paced–will do again!

 

 

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