Thursday, February 26, 2009

Starting a LovingKindness Meditation Practice

quan yinImage by meliam via Flickr

The practice of lovingkindness (or Metta, in Pali) comes to us from the Buddhist tradition, but its essence is a tenant of all major religions. The instructions are simple and universal: love yourself, love each other; and yet, we struggle with its application. It is easy enough to love ourselves or someone else when they are doing things that we like, but the challenges can be great when we are confronted with those whose actions are seemingly “unlovable,” or when we are faced with aspects of ourselves that we find hard to accept with love and compassion.
Thomas Merton expressed the challenge, and heroic nature of our struggle to embrace with lovingkindness that which we like least in ourselves, and others, when he said, “True prayer and love are learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and the heart has turned to stone.”

The idea behind the Buddhist approach to lovingkindness practice is that it is, a practice. Something we must do repeatedly and with discipline until it becomes an integral part of our deepest selves; an automatic reaction to people and events in our world. The process of turning a heart of stone into a heart that is softened with the deepest compassion and love is a step-by-step process that we have the opportunity to practice in every moment of our lives.

One of the most effective ways to begin a lovingkindness practice is through the use of Metta meditation. In this simple meditation we offer a wish for freedom, happiness, and the cessation of suffering for a particular person, group, or the entire world. A basic Metta meditation for all beings is:

May all beings be happy.
May all beings be free from suffering.
May all beings be at peace.

An example of Metta directed towards a particular person is:
May _________ be happy.
May _________ be free from harm.
May _________ be filled with peace.

You can repeat one, or all three of the phrases over and over, aloud or in your head, for 2-5 minutes while visualizing the person or group you are focusing on, and imagining that you are sending this lovingkindness out to them. Because it can be challenging to focus on and offer this sort of energy to those who we have negative feelings towards, it is recommended that the practitioner proceed by first offering Metta to themselves, then to a benefactor, a friend, a neutral person (bank teller, someone you see on a walk), a difficult person, and finally, All Beings. It is important to start the focus of our practice by offering lovingkindness to ourselves, because only by having a truly deep and abiding love for ourselves can we have this same love for others.

As part of the self-love aspect of a lovingkindness practice we can reflect back to the yogic practice of Ahimsa (non-violence, non-harming.) We must remember as we strive to fill our hearts, minds and actions with lovingkindness that we are only human, and we will often fall short of our ideals. In those moments we must embrace Ahimsa and not react violently towards ourselves, but rather use the next moment as an opportunity to start once again in the mindset of lovingkindness by offering it with gentleness and compassion to our selves.

Because Metta meditation is formed from such simple phrases it is a wonderfully portable tool that we can bring into our daily application of lovingkindness. When we find ourselves in a long line at the supermarket, or being cut off in traffic, or treated unfairly in our workplace, instead of becoming angry, and slipping to what author Joseph Goldstein calls, “the seductive habit of finding fault,” we can pause for a moment and offer a pledge of lovingkindness to the person that is causing us distress. By slowing down and being less reactive, we can often see the good qualities of the person we are confronted with, or “put ourselves in their shoes” for a moment. From this calm, centered point-of-view we can better see the reality of the situation and act in a logical manner that will bring the most wholesome outcome for all those involved, rather then reacting from a place of fear, irritation and anger. In time, lovingkindness removes the illusion of separation from each other that we often feel.

As the Dalai Lama says, “Through the practice of lovingkindness and compassion I have found that all human beings are just like me.”

May you be happy. May you be free from all suffering. May you be filled with peace.

Lovingkindness Practice Resources
Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach
The Gift of Loving-Kindness: 100 Meditations on Compassion, Generosity, & Forgiveness by Mary Brantley and Tesilya Hanauer (Website) from Brian Schell

© 2009 Teal Marie Chimblo and Blissful Body Yoga

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Meditate on Love's Ecstasy

A pic from our wedding in November and a few thoughts on love.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy; To return home at eventide with gratitude; And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

-- Kahlil Gibran

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Matt Logelin and Madeline on Rachel Ray promoting The Liz Logelin Foundation.

Salma Hayek with Madeline on the Rachel Ray Show this morning!
(you can read more on Matt's blog)

Today Matt Logelin and his sweet little cutie pie, little girl Madeline were on the Rachel Ray Show (I felt super special because I was on there for about 10 seconds too!:-) If you don't know Matt's story it is a really tough one...

On March 24, 2008, little Madeline Elizabeth Logelin came into this world.

The next day, her mother left it.

From this impossibly tragic event, a community was born. A community of individuals, united in their desire to help and support Madeline and her father, Matt. This community formed the basis for what would become a worldwide charitable foundation:

The Liz Logelin Foundation – For the Love of Liz.

What is so wonderful about the story is the out-pouring of support Matt has received. I've been privileged to play a small part by creating the foundation logo, but there is a group of amazing women out there (helloooo Creepies) that have done an ASTOUNDING amount of work to help Matt, and now the Liz Logelin Foundation.

But, the work has just begun.

The foundation is just getting started and really needs your help. To make this easier consider the $7 on the 7th program. "Skip the latte" for a couple days and do a little karma yoga (selfless service) by helping families in crisis.

(If you would like to add this widget to your blog, click here.)

If you'd like to help by donating your services to the foundation, making a contribution, adding the LLF widget to your blog, you can find out information on how to do this on the Liz Logelin Foundation homepage.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Mayhem Arts, beautiful malas for practice.

Check out these beautiful malas (prayer/meditation beads) from Mayhem Arts. They are having a really good sale on these beautiful handmade pieces. A good time to pick up a mala for your practice.
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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Have YOU joined the Blissful Body Yoga Group on FACEBOOK?

Facebook, Inc.Image via Wikipedia

Have YOU joined the Blissful Body Yoga Group on FACEBOOK?

Whatcha waiting for...


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The great necklace givaway!

Win this beautiful amethyst and Czech glass necklace made by me!
This necklace was handmade by me and contains beautiful chunks of amethyst (which symbolizes the spirit), Indian crow beads, and Czech glass. The center pendant is a pewter Celtic cross. The necklace is 15.5 inches long and has a safety clasp. Jewelry making is a meditation for me and I infuse all the pieces I make with good energy and light for those who wear them.

How do I win?
If you have already downloaded one of the classes - AWESOME- and thank you! Simply go to the site and leave a review for either or both meditations. You will be entered once for each review you leave.

If you haven't downloaded a meditation yet, do so and leave a review between now and March 6 and you will be entered to win!

At only $2.95 per downloadable class (less then a cup of coffee!) you can give the gift of bliss to yourself, or a friend.

Two meditations are currently available:

Progressive Relaxation #1 will take you to a place of complete and utter serenity. "Teal's warm and meditative voice is ideal to help you get deep into a state of calm and tranquility. In this meditation Teal has you visualize a white light as it moves through you body and rids it of any and all stress and tension. Ahhhhhh!"

Click here to download your copy today.

Sivasana Relaxation #1. Sivasana is a posture often practiced at the end of a yoga class, but you can do this relaxing Sivasana meditation any time you need to take a break and rest. Sivasana helps the body, mind and spirit to relax, integrate, and restore. This Sivasana Relaxation meditation will take you into a deep state of calm and is also great as a cure for insomnia.

Click here to download your copy today.

I can not express my gratitude to all the people who downloaded my guided meditations over the last 3 months. It was wonderful to see such a positive response and it makes me happy to know they are helping to bring stress relief and relaxation into so many lives. There will be many more to come, so stay tuned...

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Febrauary Blissful Body Yoga Newsletter

Hello my dear ones!

The February issue of the Blissful Body Yoga Newsletter is out. If you are not subscribed you can view current and past issues here.

I hope you will subscribe as it is chock full of yoga goodness and fun stuff; AND if you sign up this month you might win a BBY tote! Sweet.:-)

Whales serve as backdrop for aquarium yoga classes

This story was sent to me by my awesome college roomate Joya Lonsdale. Is this not the most beautiful idea??? I can't imagine a more peaceful environment for a class...unless we could really be under the sea with them:-)


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Friday, February 6, 2009

Sacred Geometry: Utthita Trikonasana, Triangle Pose

Utthita Trikonasana (extended triangle pose) is a foundational yoga posture that engages, stretches and strengthens the entire body.

There is a sacred geometry inherent in all yoga asana. Placing the body mindfully and with proper alignment into yoga asanas activates the energy meridians in the body thereby increasing the flow of Prana (vital life force) throughout our bodies.

In Trikonasana, as in all standing poses, the foundation is in the connection the feet make with the earth and the energetic activations of the muscles in the legs. It is an excellent posture to build strength in the legs, core and back. The intense lateral side stretch and opening of the chest also aid in developing deep breathing.

Often when students new to yoga (and old, for that matter) move into Trikonasana they mistakenly focus their attention on getting the hand down to the floor. This is TOTALLY unnecessary. The hand may never reach the floor, and it if reaches it only by shortening the side waist on the extended side, collapsing the chest forward, or over straining the legs (sometimes all three!) then the sacred architecture and the great benefits of the posture are lost. What is more, serious injury may occur. Keep the hand as high up on the leg as necessary to keep the integrity of the pose (never press on the knee), or use a block as an excellent prop to assist in the pose.

Enjoy making yourself into a glorious extended triangle! Jai Bhagwan!

This is very good clear instruction for Utthita Trikonasana (extended triangle pose), given by John Schumacher, a senior Iyengar Yoga teacher and director of Unity Woods Yoga, in Washington, D.C.

This is just TOO cute and clever, and quite good instruction, except for the hyper-extended knee:-)

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Darkness, Delusion and the Bhagavad Gita

Arjuna and Krishna as depicted on the 1980s co...Image via Wikipedia

One of my favorite morning reads is my battered old copy of the Bhagavad Gita (The Song of God.) I purchased it in high school at Peace of Mind Bookstore, and my copy was old and used when I got it. Now it looks to be almost as old as the 3,000 year old Vedic scripture contained within; but the message is ever shiny and new, and as deeply relevant now as it was when it was first told. Whenever I read it my heart fills up with love, peace and a deep sense of purpose for my life.

The Gita is nestled within a larger poem The Mahabharata, the longest epic poem ever written, which tells many wonderful stories of "Great India" (another fascinating and illuminating read.)

In the Bhagavad Gita, the great warrior Arjuna is on the battlefield, faced with the horrible dilemma of impending war. He is soul sick about how he should proceed and calls on Lord Krishna for help. The poem is a conversation between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, and is a deep metaphor for the struggles facing all of humanity on the "battlefield" of Life.

There are many lines from this poem that come back to me again and again, but none more than these:

The Atman* is light:
The light is covered by darkness:
This darkness is delusion:
That is why we dream.

* One's true Self.

This is the primary meditation for my own journey with yoga. To constantly return to where I truly am; to lay down the cloak of darkness that swallows me in delusion and makes me think that I am something other than a being of light in union with all things. I repeat the mantra to my self: Sat Nam. I am That, I am.

As you move through your day with yoga, or head to the mat for your sadhana, I encourage you to write these words from the Gita on a peace of paper and make them a part of your contemplation and meditation into your own true nature.

The lines above are taken from The Bhagavad Gita translated by Swami Prabhavananda, and Christopher Isherwood.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

In The January Tote Bag Winner Is...

The winner of January's tote bag givaway is....::drum roll::

Carolyn G!

Carolyn was chosen randomly using this nifty little random number generator I found.

Thank you to Carolyn, and all the other lovely people who signed up for the Blissful Body Yoga Newsletter in January.

If you haven't signed up yet, today is a great day to do so! FIRST, because then you will be entered to win the February tote bag, and SECOND, because I am sending out a new newsletter tomorrow and it will be chock full of goodies, and details on yet another great giveaway (this one involves jewelry... people...I'm just saying!
(sign up is easy, just fill out the form in the right hand column, and hit submit.)

Have a great day, and ::b r e a t h e:: deeeeeply.


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