Meditation Is Good for Your Health!

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Meditation

I know, I know. “Who has time for meditation? It takes time, and when I’m busy all I think about when I try to meditate is all the stuff I have to do, making me stress out even worse. What’s the point?”

But when we look at the data, who has time NOT to meditate? Studies show that regular meditators are more calm, less stressed, and when groups meditate the crime rates go down. Meditators are more productive, more creative, learn faster, and are generally more content with their life than those who don’t. People who meditate in a group are more likely to stick with it and have a higher sense of purpose and satisfaction than those who meditate alone.

Regular meditation has even been shown to dramatically improve physical health. Scientific studies have shown that coronary disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and high blood pressure have lessened or otherwise depleted with the help of meditation. Get this: health insurance stats show that people who meditate regularly have a reduced likelihood of being hospitalized for coronary disease by 87 percent, and the possibility of getting cancer by 55 percent. And people who meditate are psychologically 12–15 years younger. That’s nuts! (read the full article here)

If prayer is a form of meditation, Martin Luther, the historic religious reformer, certainly went against the grain when he asserted, “I have so much I need to do today, I need to pray for an extra hour.”

photo: https://www.danspapers.com/2018/12/paul-mccartney-ends-2018-tour-dates-video/

photo: https://www.danspapers.com/2018/12/paul-mccartney-ends-2018-tour-dates-video/

meditation

Paul McCartney has crooned some immutable truths but never has he said it better than when he shared, “In moments of madness, meditation has helped me find moments of serenity—and I would like to think that it would help provide young people a quiet haven in a not-so-quiet world.” Drop the mic.

So maybe you’re saying, “Ok, ok, I know regular meditation would help me but I need some basic instruction on what to do . . . and a little encouragement to get going.”

That’s where I come in.

There’s no time like the beginning of the year to start something new. That’s why I’m hosting my 31-Day Meditation Challenge starting TOMORROW. I’ll lead you through how to transform your life with a regular meditation practice. The challenge is to meditate every day for 31 days using whatever style of meditation you like for 15 minutes a day. That’s it!

One of the thrilling things about this challenge is that you’ll be doing this with a large group of people from all over the world. This will help increase your accountability and fun. You’ll be able to connect to each other for support and encouragement on our forum. We want you to be a part of our meditation community!

Not only will I and our community be helping you every step of the way, but if you call your mom and your best friends and let them know that you’re going to do the 31-Day Meditation Challenge and ask to be accountable to them, you’ll stick with it. Hell, invite them along and build a meditation posse, your sit crew. I know that whenever I want to make some positive changes in my life—I want to eat more healthy, get more fit, save money—if I am accountable to other people I stick with the program. If I’ve promised my wife that I’m not eating sugar, I’ll walk by that incredible bakery that sells the best pain au chocolat and not even give it a second look. So tell your nearest and dearest that you’re doing this and invite them along.

I’ll also be helping you by providing regular instruction, support, encouragement. I’ll give you some transformational and relaxing guided meditations to use if you want. Plus, I’ll lead you through a powerful visualization of 2019 that you can revisit regularly to blast yourself into an unstoppable year through the power of your own awesomeness.

The 31-Day Meditation challenge only costs $31 and as an incentive, if you complete all 31 days of meditating for 15 minutes a day, you can opt to get your tuition back. This is easy and fun and you’ll see some beautiful and transformational changes occur in your life.

Do this with me. Invite your friends to join us and together let’s have an incredible 2019!

 
Source: meditationisgoodforyourhealth

Nothing But My Underwear

In September of 2011,

I participated in Salt Lake City’s first ever Undie Run. The concept is simple: run with thousands of other people . . . in nothing but your underwear.
 
Why? Some people tried to make the Undie Run, this display of flagrant deviance, of wanton exhibitionism, demonstrate some deeper meaning. They tried to assign it as a protest by uncapping Sharpies and scrawling half-hearted grievances on their nearly-naked bodies. But it was clear by the gayety and silliness of everyone involved that this was really about simply letting your hair down in a city known for its tight-laced morals and demur etiquette.
 
I had agreed to meet a friend of mine at the starting line of the Undie Run, at a place called The Gallivan Center. The Gallivan Center is a large public space, in downtown Salt Lake City, perfect for concerts, festivals, and as fate would have it, thousands of people dressed in nothing but their bras ‘n panties or tighty whities ready to run to the State Capitol and back.
 
I’m not normally prone to public nakedness but thought the Undie Run might put me a little out of my comfort zone and be a lot of fun. I know that getting out of my comfort zone is often the key ingredient to personal growth. Little did I know, however, just how much out of my comfort zone this would put me and how much personal growth I’d experience.
 
I drove to the Gallivan Center and parked in the parking garage. Nervous, I got out of my truck, and with a brave and bold resolve, stripped down to nothing but my favorite pair of unds, running shoes, and just to play it safe, my hands-free device—you know, in case I got an important call while on my run.
 
Feeling very exposed, nervous, and alone, I walked by myself through the parking structure toward the entrance point of the Undie Run. Once at the Galiivan Center, I’d luckily be met by the thousands of other people also in their underwear and I’d feel a little less conspicuous.
 
But to my horror, there was a police officer blocking the gate between the parking garage and the Gallivan Center who instructed me that I couldn’t enter the event from this gate and would have to walk two and a half city blocks, long blocks mind you, around the Gallivan Center to enter the event at a different gate. I saw no reason for this detour but when pressed and the cop didn’t budge nor so much as even grace me with an explanation.
 
So out into the crowded city streets I went. Alone and wearing only my underwear (and hands-free device).
 
I knew I would soon enough join several others in a similar state of undress, but for now it was just me.
 
Longest.
Walk.
Of my life.

Fortunately, after only a few steps down that lonely sidewalk, I remembered one of my deepest values. No, not the value of modesty, but a value I believe to be much more important which is:

It doesn’t matter what your wearing, what you look like, or what your circumstances as long as you OWN IT.
 
So, own it I did.
 
With no other choice, I strutted down Salt Lake City’s prim and proper streets with my head held high, looking people in the face and saying hello like it was any other day. I fucking owned those streets in my Calvin Kleins and hands-free device!
 
After several long minutes of walking solo, I eventually met the thousands of other Undie Runners and felt relieved not to be so singularly exposed.
 
Isn’t it funny how what seems so scandalous, like walking down the streets alone in your underwear, changes to something completely ordinary when you’re surrounded by the social proof of thousands of other people doing likewise?
 

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Notice the hands-free device. Very hot!

Notice the hands-free device. Very hot!

 
Nothing but my underwear
 
In Nothing but my underwear
 
In Nothing But My Underwear

The lesson I learned by walking alone down the street in my underwear was this: There will be moments in your life when you will be all alone, subject to scrutiny, doubt, ridicule, and judgement, when you’re completely exposed, vulnerable, and with nowhere to hide. And at times like these, you have to simply “own it,” hold your head up high, and keep walking.
 
So, whether you’re embarking upon an unknown chapter of your life, or busting out a yoga pose that seems to defy you, or strutting down the street in your underwear, hold your head up high, do your best and keep going. Whatever you’ve got, wherever you’re at, just own it.
 
Most of the time you won’t be met with throngs of people who are in a similar situation or even understand your situation. That doesn’t matter.  Simply keep your head high and your feet beneath you, grounded in a sure knowing of Self.
 
And in such moments, if you don’t have pockets, consider a hands-free device.
 
Namaste


Join me for an unforgettable yoga retreat along Italy's Amalfi Coast. May 26-June 2 2018


The Worry Haiku

Salt Lake City Yoga

We are all subject to doubt and indecision from time to time. Recently I was wallowing in my routine despair about life and all of its desperate decisions.

You know, the typical: What am I doing with my life? What would have happened if I would have done things differently? Why is Pluto suddenly not a planet anymore and why didn't I get to vote?

So, feeling burdened by the weight and whirlwind of indecision about what direction my life should go, I decided to meditate. After mulling my mind over the various directions I could choose, I got tired of the fruitlessness of freaking out and instead tried to simply be aware, to focus on my breath rather than focus on my problems, to find that place that I've heard is always peaceful.
 
It took a while but I found some peace there in my heart. And in a moment of clarity, my mind recalled that all these temporary and illusorily (but still important) decisions will be made clear the more I cultivate and understand that peace, that inner self. I realized that I didn't need to make a decision about those things now. That what I could to do is grow my relationship with what I call the True Self, the part that isn't defined by all of these temporary details of those momentarily important decisions.

I felt that perhaps whatever my decisions, actions, or endeavors I faced, when made based from a grounded place of inner-peace, will be the product of something trusted and sure. Also, when I looked at my decisions or problems from that place of real clarity, I could see how I was reacting to fears and worries instead of looking at these questions with objectivity where I could move forward with power and conviction. With that sure knowledge of seeing things as they are, I had the courage to step out to those precarious edges of potential, pushed by a power of my own grounded knowledge of Self.
 
And then suddenly there was no more searching because I'd momentarily found the source-it was right here all along. I've also discovered that when I've made a decision based on this knowledge of Self, it doesn't exempt me from problems or struggles further down the road but at least I know that the difficulty I will encounter is necessary turbulence for the path I've chosen. It is the Tapas, the Sanskrit concept meaning the heat necessary for transformation. It's the medicine.  It's what will continue to lead me down my path of self-discovery, the path that feels the most right to me because ultimately it is the product of my True Self.
 
And as I go that True Self whispers like Gandalf in my ear, "Speak your truth, act with honesty and integrity, and always listen."
 
Haiku:
 
The Clash wails questions
Weighed down by indecision.
All things grow from Self.
 

I Love Good Humor

 


I love good humor. I love the perfectly delivered punch line, packaged with impeccable comedic timing. To deliver good humor with an unmovable poker face is nothing short of an art.

More than humor I love music. As a musician, listening to music is very important to me. One of my greatest pleasures is to listen to a CD in the isolation of my car and as I'm driving around, digest the entire album over the course of a couple of days or a week. I listen to the album over and over, like reading a book, hearing the way the chapters/songs relate to each other, picking up on the musician's overall character, finding musical jokes, tragedy, irony, and connecting musical themes. I feel the sound of the entire album.

One of my other guilty pleasures is listening to radio talk. I guess I like to overhear others' conversations.

Well, one day I'm was on my way to teach a morning yoga class when I opened my car door to discover that someone had broken into my car and had stolen my car stereo. I was devastated. My car was locked, there were no broken windows, and the door didn't look forced open. Judging by the skill and ease of this job, the guy who robbed me seemed to me to be the Bob Villa of car stereo thievery. Normally, when people steal your car stereo, the damage they incur trying to get your stereo out exponentially outweighs the value of the stereo itself. Fortunately, this guy was very thorough and created no other damage to the car than a hole in my dashboard with a few neat wires sticking out. In fact, the job was so neat, that I half expected to see the wires twisted off, taped, and labeled for me.

The only sloppy part, the part that added insult to injury, was the fact that while so skillfully absconding with my stereo, the thief ate an ice cream bar and decided to graciously leave the used, sticky wrapper in the front seat of my car. The Pink Panther leaves a single white glove; this guy chooses as his signature to leave an ice cream wrapper. Go figure. I picked up said wrapper and, fuming, was about to throw it away when I noticed the label on the wrapper, the irony of which almost smacked me across the face. It said in nauseatingly bright and happy colors, "I Love Good Humor." I was too upset to get this sick joke and appreciate the "humor" of the situation, although I sensed that there may be some rich lesson here. Instead of throwing it away, I placed the wrapper in the now vacant cavity that used to hold my stereo and drove away, brooding.

It's like my arm had a mind of its own. No sooner did I start to drive away than by complete and mindless habit did my arm attempt to reach over and turn on my stereo, only to nudge the wrapper sitting in the stereo's hole. I looked over to see "I Love Good Humor" in all its happy and sticky arrogance, gloating back at me. This did not improve my mood. The silence in the car was a screaming reminder that I felt someone had seriously wronged me. Perhaps 30 seconds later, again my arm attempted to turn on my stereo only to receive a similar result. My mood was changing from bad to worse. I lasted maybe another strong two minutes before my now music-starved arm reached out to fill the deafening silence in the car, only to hit the same infuriating wrapper. "OKAY, UNIVERSE. OKAY! HARDY HAR! JOKE'S ON ME! ONE OF THE THINGS I LOVE MOST IN LIFE HAS BEEN CRUELLY RIPPED OFF AND NOW I HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN BY LOOKING AT THAT STUPID WRAPPER. VERY FUNNY!"

Despite my internal rant, I kept the wrapper in its new home. I drove around that day, and the next, and the next, catching myself occasionally trying to turn on my new ice cream wrapper. It didn't work.

After about a week of sulking, something magical happened (no, the wrapper didn't spontaneously begin singing show tunes), I decided to try chanting while in the car. It felt good, really good. Then after a few days I tried singing to myself. My voice rocks when no one else is listening. I prayed. I also began to keep quiet and think about the yoga class I was about to teach, picturing which students would be there and what they might need from a yoga class. I began to notice amazing things, breathtaking things, things like the silhouette of the mountains against in the moonless, pre-dawn light of the morning. I noticed the way that the car felt as I drove it, the way it would take bumps, the vibrations of the engine tingling my hands on the steering wheel, the rush of acceleration. I began to notice with acute clarity my emotions and thoughts. All this silence was giving me an incredible opportunity to direct my attention inward.

My teaching and my personal practice improved almost immediately. I began to arrive to class much more ready to teach. I was less distracted, more focused, and could read the needs of a class much quicker and effectively. I found myself finally saying the things that I'd felt but could not find words to express. I said the right things because my mind had been "in class" since I left home. As I practiced yoga or meditated, I no longer spent the first half of practice trying to get the last song out of my head.

One of my most stark realizations was the understanding that I was completely addicted, not just to music, but more pointedly to the need to have some noise present, the perceived need to be drawn away from my own center and hear someone else's conversation, someone else's music, someone else's jokes. It was only then that I understood the looming joke resting quietly, stone-faced, in the car stereo cavity of the dashboard of my car. It had taken weeks but one day, while driving around, I finally got the joke! The comedic timing had built to this fantastic climax: here I was, a yoga teacher, traveling around like a mad man, music and chatter blaring in my head, only to screech to a halt, run into the studio, sit down, and talk about getting quiet. Ha! I wasn't practicing what I was teaching. What's more I finally got a taste of the brilliance of silence. I got it, Universe! I got it! The joke was on me. It took this lesson of "grandmotherly kindness," the ultimately compassionate lesson where your master beats you over the head with a stick (or steals your car stereo), to teach you something crucial. For me this lesson was how to know and appreciate stillness.
 
It took about a year until I eventually got a new stereo. Still, I learned something very valuable in the silence, something I wasn't entirely ready to give up. I learned that no matter what our work is, if we want to do good work, we need to have a solid relationship with silence. This is what we are practicing in yoga and meditation. Now, I listen to music as a choice, not a compulsion. Now, I listen to the silence.

 

I love good humor. 

What Is Mindfulness

 

What does it mean to be mindful? I'm sure we could all describe it in a different way. Some might say focused, conscious, alert, aware. How would you describe mindful? I believe that being mindful is the goal of yoga, it's what we practice, and all the other stuff like peacefulness, health, clarity, wellness, those are all byproducts of mindfulness.

Once we become practiced at mindfulness, we'll find ourselves applying it to all the other things we do in life: work, our relationships, how we spend our free time, even how we do those things we don't love doing like taking out the trash. And let's not mistake being mindful for perfect or blissed-out or even happy. It's just mindful. To have an emotion, for example, and to be perfectly mindful, is to allow yourself the capacity to be completely aware of it, completely involved. And that goes for anything. To really appreciate time with our kids, practicing yoga, the enjoyment of a meal, or enjoying whatever we like to do, we need to be mindful, lest that fun or those flavors pass by unnoticed.

But maybe because of this mindfulness, we'll have experiences and see that what we are isn't defined by them, that what we truly are is bigger than that emotion, that time with our kids, or that yoga posture. And it's by being mindful we can actually use the experience of an emotion or yoga pose or whatever to witness our true identity, which is mindfulness itself. The emotion or whatever is simply the brushstroke on the canvas of mindfulness. Don't mistake the brushstroke as the painting. If it weren't for the canvas, there could be no brushstroke.

So as we are in yoga practice this week, let's practice understanding our True Nature by practicing mindfulness. I also invite you to practice being mindful as you leave your house to go about your day or drive to work. Notice everything: the feeling of the steering wheel (or handlebars), the feeling of the road beneath you, the flow of traffic, the song on the radio.

See you in class.

Scott



Not Troubled

saltlakecityoga123

Yoga gives us a chance to start seeing our reactions: our aversion to suffering, and our clinging and attachment to pleasure and joy. It gives us a breath, a pause, a chance to ALLOW for the world and our lives to play themselves out, even if it is uncomfortable or awkward or even painful sometimes. We can take lesson, as usual, from nature, of which we're a part...
      The Buddha teaches his servant Rahula:
     "Develop a state of mind like the EARTH, Rahula, for on the earth all manner of things are thrown, clean and unclean, dung and urine, spittle, pus and blood, and the earth is not troubled or repelled or disgusted...
     "Develop a state of mind like WATER, for in the water many things are thrown, clean and unclean, and the water is not troubled or repelled or disgusted. And so too with FIRE, which burns all things, clean and unclean, and with AIR, which blows upon them all, and with SPACE, which is nowhere established."
(From "The Glass Palace," by Amitav Ghosh)

May we see the beautiful world we live in. May we breathe and move, and practice less attachment and aversion this week. I hope see you in class (but I’m not attached!).

The following is an ancient mantra that my teacher Erin Geesaman Rabke taught me:

May we and all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.

May we and all beings be from sorrow and any causes of sorrow.

May we and all beings never be separated from the sacred happiness which is beyond sorrow.

And may we and all beings live in equanimity, without too much attachment or aversion.

And may we live recognizing and honoring the equality of all that lives

Sarva mangalam. (May the greatest goodness unfold)

Scott