Mindful Influence ~ Creating conscious moments

Kari Estrada


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4 Minute Hatha Yoga

Have you ever just needed a few minutes to just be?  The video below is a great mini getaway for a mind-body connection.  This can be done virtually anywhere.  This quick 4 minute exercise is designed to be done anytime during your day.  It is great to do in your office, upon waking up, in a park, or before bed.

Hatha Yoga relaxes me and makes a mind-body connection and to clear my mind of clutter, while reducing anxiety and stress.  Please remember to connect with your breath, and notice your body without expectations or judgments.  Please share any comments below after practicing this mindfulness Hatha Yoga.  I hope you enjoy!

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My Mindfulness Pulse

One of the things I enjoy about mindfulness is that is balances my body/mind connection.  Mindfulness has provided my life calmness, peacefulness, and happiness.  I enjoy practicing various mindfulness meditations and applying the benefits to different moments throughout my day.

Now that we are approaching the summer months with warmer weather, I find myself doing less of a formal sit down or body scan meditation.  However, I am doing more moving meditations (Hatha Yoga)  and taking a lot of mindful walks.  I notice my body/mind connection and the environment with a heightened awareness of my surroundings.

When I was first introduced to mindfulness, I felt as though I was only truly “being” during my meditations.  Over the past nine months, my cultivation of mindfulness has evolved into a lifestyle.  It allows me to live with honesty, integrity, dignity, and respect for myself and for others.

I read the following quote by Louis L’Amour for the first time the other day.  This was a true reality in my life not so long ago:

“Few of us ever live in the present.  We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.”

My curiosity for mindfulness started after I was involved in an unfortunate car accident that left me unable to walk for about four months.  Prior to and after the accident, I had been introduced to Qi-Gong through my sister.  When doing some research on Qi-Gong, I came across many articles on mindfulness.  I started integrating simple breathing meditations each morning along with some of the healing sounds my sister had taught me.  It truly helped change my mindset from a negative to a positive.  About a year after the accident, I had my second child and life got busy and I took a left turn off of my mindfulness journey.  It wasn’t until several years later, last fall, that I was re-introduced to mindfulness through a mindful leadership class through the MBA program at the University of Nevada Reno.  I am so thankful that this time around, it has become part of my pulse.

Now that I have shared a little bit about how mindfulness aligned into my life, I would like to hear how mindfulness was introduced into your daily life.  Also, what type of mindfulness practices do you utilize?  What changes or benefits have taken place?

Thank you for sharing your comments below.  I can also be followed on Twitter.


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Mind, Body, and Breath Movement

Connecting the mind, body, and breath with awareness is a key understanding of mindfulness.  In previous blogs, I have discussed the belly breathing meditation and the body scan meditation.  Today I will be taking mindfulness to the mat with Hatha YogaYogi Swatmarama introduced Hatha Yoga in the 15th century.  It combines posture movements with conscious breathing and helps increases focus and awareness.

I first read about Hatha Yoga in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, Full Catastrophe Living.  Before I started this meditation, I was judging the process and was intimidated of my perceived vision of yoga.  I really paid attention to utilizing the beginners mind, one of the seven attitudes of mindfulness.  For a couple of weeks, I practiced the poses from the book.  This then led to a group session of Hatha Yoga in my Mindful Leadership class.  After this class, I started adding this type of mindful meditation to my “mindfulness time” several times a week.  I enjoyed the opportunity to have another variety of mindfulness to practice and how it incorporated movements with the breath.

Jon Kabat-Zinn describes Hatha Yoga as, “mobilizing our ability to cultivate embodied wisdom and self-compassion; and by so doing it teaches us to live our life and face whatever arises with integrity, clarity, and open-hearted presence.”  After a couple of months of practicing Hatha Yoga, this quote has become a reality to me in my daily life.  There is a flowing awareness with my mind, body, and breath.  It guides me to a harmonious place and allows me to see life with a beginners mind during my practice and in my daily interactions and challenges.

YouTube has several videos with guided Hatha Yoga Practice.  Here is a beginners Hatha Yoga video below from health psychologist, Dr. Lynn Rossy:

Try incorporating Hatha Yoga into your mindfulness routine once or twice a week.  Let me know your thoughts on this practice.  Please follow me on Twitter.

 

 


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Falling Awake

In mindfulness meditation there are several meditations that you can choose from.  I personally do a mixture of belly breathing, body scans, and hatha yoga.  Meditation practices can range from three to sixty minutes and in some instances, longer.  I enjoy having a variety of meditations so that I can choose the practice that best fits my day.

My focus today will be on the body scan.  At first, many believe this to be a way to relax the body.  In essence, it is a way to observe and listen to your body as it ‘falls awake’.  Scanning your body starts at the tip of the toes as you work your way up through your head.  A body scan allows a systematic approach to discover each part of the body through awareness.  You want to perform this without judgment or expectations.  Remember, this takes practice.  Each mindfulness practice will not be perfect.  If thoughts come about during this exercise, simply focus your attention back to that part of the body you are on.

how-to-do-a-body-scanFor me, the body scan is about making a mind-body connection and allowing my breath to take me on a journey through my body.  I started doing body scan meditations for chronic pain in my feet from an accident.  I also use it when I have an occasional headache that will not go away on its own. Performing a body scan alleviates pain that I would have otherwise taken a pain reliever for.  Through body scans, I am healthier and do not suffer from pain.  I prefer my ‘mindfulness minutes’ over popping a pill.

When doing a body scan, let go of your thoughts on the past or the future and just be in the moment.  Be patient with yourself, as this will take practice.  I prefer to follow guided body scans as my attention stays more focused and in the moment.  I have found several guided mindfulness body scans on YouTube.  Below I have shared an audio-guided body scan that I use quite often.

Try and ‘fall awake’ with a mindfulness body scan meditation.  Please let me know your thoughts and experiences after you have done a few body scans.

[photo credit]