730 Days of Meditation 🙏🏻 <3

2.7.17 💕 🙏 💕 

A day late, but nonetheless…yesterday I reached TWO YEARS of MEDITATING!!! That’s 730 days in a row! Waaahooo! You can read all about my meditation journey here. Today I’m very thankful for how far I’ve come and for completing two years of my practices. Over the last two years I have learned some pretty cool things. For example:

  • I need to take care of myself.
  • I need to support and nourish my mind, body and soul.
  • I have become fully present in the now and deeply connected to my inner guide.

Let me tell you friends, meditation does wonders and I would be so lost without it.

I LOVE these images and quotes below. They totally summarizes my thoughts/feelings about meditation. ❤

One of the phrases/quotes that really struck me above was, “one day it just clicks.” This is so very true. Like many of you may know, my first introduction to mindfulness and meditation was in 2011 when I took a mini-series on stress reduction. That mini-series transpired to me taking an 8-week MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) course, where my meditation practice really started. Between 2011-2015 I toggled back and forth with practicing and attending workshops with my dear friend and mentor, Cassie. However, it wasn’t until February of 2015 when I decided to dive “all in” and seriously begin my meditation practice. Like the quote says “one day it just clicks” and that’s exactly what happened for me. After that day I was well on my way. I decided right then and there to begin my meditation practice and to keep at it for one year…and here I am, two years later! 🙂

Meditation is by far the best gift I could ever give myself. Throughout my practice I have gained so much more than I ever thought possible! It’s amazing what happens when you fully incorporate something like meditation into your daily life; the benefits are unbelievable and so very rewarding.

As I approach these types of milestones, I tend to reflect a lot on my practice and always give thanks and gratitude to the person who got me started on this beautiful journey. Cassie, I can’t thank you enough for what you have given me. Thank you for showing me the way and for being such a wonderful friend and mentor. I love you dearly! ❤

My mediation practice is incredibly  important to me and something I will continue to hopefully, always work on. This next year I hope to take my practice a little more seriously and to really deepen my practice. I have a routine, but I would like to develop it more and keep showing up everyday. Throughout my journey I have already experienced so many positive benefits from meditating, but I know there is always more to gain. Most importantly, I know there is more to learn about myself. Here’s to another year of practicing, connecting with myself and deepening my practice!

Thanks as always for reading. Namaste! 💕 🙏 💕 

Xo

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Mindful U 2.0

One Wednesday, November 2 I had the pleasure of attending another one of Cassie’s wonderful seminars/retreat called Mindful U. I actually attended this retreat last year. I’m calling this years retreat Mindful U 2.0 because Cassie revamped this program and changed it up. We were back at the beautiful Stillpath Retreat Center in Woodside, CA. I feel very fortunate to have been to Stillpath so many times. 🙂 My very first retreat at Stillpath was in 2014 for Cassie’s Your Mindful Brain workshop. At this rate I seem to visit every year! I always LOVE spending the day with Cassie and soaking up all of her wisdom! Sometimes you just have to take a break from everything, unplug and do something good for your soul.

Stillpath is one of the most beautiful and magical places. Walking into the center and being among the redwood trees makes you feel relaxed automatically. While we were there it was an absolutely gorgeous day in the mountains! These pictures really can’t compare to the pure beauty that’s found in actually being at Stillpath.

Mindful U is a course/series Cassie developed last year. It’s now something that is being taught/used with corporate teams, for organizations evaluating mindfulness as an intervention for stress reduction, employee engagement, or leadership development. Mindful U is a highly interactive program where Cassie guides you through a variety of mindfulness techniques like breath awareness, mindful check-in, body scan, sitting meditation, walking meditation, and provides many simple tools to help heightened awareness in daily life.

Mindful U contains 6 progressive modules that are intended to help cultivate awareness in the hopes of achieving measurable improvements in all aspects of one’s life. The 6 modules include:

  1. Wake Up & Breathe
  2. Get in Your Body
  3. Come to Your Senses
  4. Board the Brain Train
  5. Sit with it All
  6. Plug in and Go!

Throughout the modules we had journal prompts, communication activities and reflection. We also received some take-away items! Yay! We got a lovely journal and a card deck that captures the highlight of each module. The deck of cards Cassie made are fabulous! I really love the idea of the cards and not just having to rely on my notes.

During the day we toggled between activity and rest. We did a siting mediation, body scan, mindful walk as well as other activities related to the modules. Around noon, a delicious lunch was provided. I have to be honest, this is one of my favorite parts about attending Cassie’s retreats. The food is always DELICIOUS! This year we had a make-your-own sandwich bar as well as a few delicious salads.

Aside from being in the beautiful redwoods, Stillpath has all of these gorgeous statues, pictures and fixtures throughout the building. These all add to the peaceful and relaxing environment. Here are some of my favorites!

Our entire day is spent in the Great Room which is stunning itself. They also have a saline pool which I really hope to use at some point. I mean who wouldn’t want to take a dip in this?! I really hope that someday I have the chance to stay on the property. It’s so peaceful, beautiful and relaxing. Such a great place to unwind, unplug and recharge. pool

Everything at Stillpath has some sort of meaning and fits perfectly in the space. I am always so glad to attend any retreat Cassie puts on because is just a wonderful human being. She is so full of wisdom, kindness and love. It’s truly wonderful being able to spend the day with her. I saw a few familiar faces and met so many other great people. So glad I took a mid-week break and was able to attend Mindful U. Already looking forward to what Cassie offers next…you know I’ll be there!

I just love the images above. I am always drawn to things like this now. I especially love the statement of “I am Powerful,” “I am Beautiful,” “I am Strong,” and “I am Enough.” This really speaks volumes to me. Those simple statements are true. I AM ENOUGH. I’ve probably said this a bunch of times, but meditation and mindfulness has done absolute wonders for me. My life has really transformed since starting my practice and from when I first met Cassie back in 2012. It’s because of Cassie that I discovered the wonderful world of meditation and have made it a part of my life. I can’t thank you enough Cassie!

Be sure to check out Cassie’s website to learn more about what she does and upcoming classes and retreats!

Xo

 

365 Days of Meditation 🙏🏻

💕 🙏 💕 🙏 💕 🙏

A day late, but nonetheless…yesterday I reached a BIG goal. ONE YEAR of MEDITATING!!! Waaahoooo what an accomplishment! When I started on this meditation journey one year ago I had no idea where it would take me or if I would even complete this goal. Today I’m so very thankful for how far I’ve come and the goal I’ve reached. I truly feel honored and blessed to have achieved this milestone. Meditation does wonders and I would be so lost without it.

I love these images and quotes below. The statement by Russell Simmons, “Meditation can reintroduce you to the part that’s been missing” really strikes a chord with me. Sometimes that’s exactly how I feel about meditation; that something has been missing in my life and that something simply is meditation. Like many of you may know, my first introduction to mindfulness and meditation was in 2011 when I took a mini-series on stress reduction at my local yoga studio, Butterfly Yoga. The instructor was amazing and I wanted to learn more. At the time, I was also going through a really difficult period personally and felt like I needed to do something. After the mini-series on stress reduction, I decided to take an 8-week  MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) course, where I learned/practiced formal and informal methods of mindfulness including the body scan, sitting meditation, gentle yoga and walking meditation. Taking that course was one of the best decisions! Although I didn’t continue my meditation practice as much as I planned after the 8 weeks, I still tried and often found myself at mini-retreats and special sessions geared towards mindfulness and meditation. All that matters is that you try and show up to your practice. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you just have to get there.

To learn more about MBSR check out the Center for Mindfulness…pretty cool stuff! Serious life changer!

Meditation is wonderful and the best gift I could ever give myself. I have gained so much more than I ever thought possible from my practice! It’s amazing what happens when you fully incorporate something like meditation into your daily life. I feel transformed, very proud that I’ve kept up with my practice, and that meditation is now a priority in my life! There is so much to gain from meditation and I truly feel it’s benefits every day.

Since reaching this year meditation milestone, I’ve reflected a great deal on how I first got introduce to mindfulness and meditation. None of my practice would be worth anything if it hadn’t been for my dear friend and mentor, Cassie Schindler. Of course I have to give a HUGE shout out and THANK YOU to her. I’ve blogged about/mentioned Cassie here probably dozens of times. She is a truly wonderful individual who I hold in the highest regard. I have to give her full credit for my introduction to mindfulness and meditation. THANK YOU Cassie for showing me the way and taking me on this journey with you! I honestly feel like a new person…or at least have re-discovered the person I really, truly am. In some magical way, I feel like Cassie and meditation has saved me! Since getting my first taste of this special world back in 2011 to my newly complete goal of 365 days of meditation, I have absolutely made meditation a part of my life. As a result, I feel so much more balanced, calm, and at peace. Additionally, my stress level has been significantly reduced or at least feels more manageable when I do my practice. Reducing stress and worry is something that I am always working on because I tend to participate in both all too much. Meditation has helped me tremendously to slow down, approach problems differently and really take the time to be present in live in this very moment.

Thanks as always for reading. Namaste! 💕 🙏 💕 🙏 💕 🙏

Mindful U

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of attending another one of Cassie’s wonderful seminars/retreat called Mindful U. The retreat took place at the Stillpath Retreat Center in Woodside, CA. The last time I was at Stillpath was in 2014 for Cassie’s Your Mindful Brain workshop. You can read about that retreat here.

Stillpath is one of the most beautiful places. Just being among the redwoods already makes you feel relaxed. It was gorgeous and so clear out. We had great views of all the tress and the stunning property. I’m already looking forward to the next time I get to visit. Someday I hope to stay on the property and use the saline pool! These pictures don’t do this place justice, but you get an idea.

Mindful U is a new course/series that Cassie has developed. It is a highly interactive program that “delivers the what, why and how of mindfulness.” There are 6 progressive modules that are intended to help cultivate awareness in the hopes of achieving measurable improvements in all aspects of one’s life. The 6 modules include:

  1. Wake Up & Breathe
  2. Get in Your Body
  3. Come to Your Senses
  4. Board the Brain Train
  5. Sit with it All, and
  6. Plug in and Go!

Cassie made these beautiful U-Maps that were designated for each module. They were full of pictures, poetry, mini activities and plenty of space for us to take notes and doodle. I was prepared with my notebook to take a bunch of furious notes (have to soak up all of Cassies’ wisdom!), but her U-Maps were so much more fun. I felt like I could really engage in what Cassie was sharing for each module and be more creative in my “note-taking” since I wasn’t just using a regular notebook.

Throughout the day we also did some light mindful movement (gentle stretching) and had sessions that had us toggling between activity and rest. We did a siting mediation, body scan, mindful walk as well as other activities related to the modules. A delicious lunch was provided by Cassie’s own daughter Glo and her partner Sonya. They have a vegan catering company called the V-List and also do consulting for people interested in a vegan lifestyle. The meal they made for us was so yummy and I know was made with lots of love. One item we had was a creamy broccoli soup…leave it to the V-List to make a creamy soup that doesn’t use milk and is totally vegan! Check them out here. For a snack we had rosemary chocolate chip cookies…so good!

The below statue is located in the Great Room and I just had to take a picture. Isn’t it gorgeous?! I was admiring how perfectly it fit with the painting on the wall and the other women looking at it mentioned that that was done on purpose. Turns out she actually lives on the property (lucky her) and said that all of the pieces at Stillpath have been placed very intentional. Hehe of course they have! So cool.

The 15th century Tahi bronze statues is of Quan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion and Mercy. She embodies compassionate kindness. According to the statue description, “as the Bodhisattva of Compassion, she hears the cries of all human beings. Often shown pouring a stream of healing water, the “Water of Like” from a small vase. With this water all living things are blessed with physical and spiritual peace. She holds a sheaf (bowl) of ripe rice seed as a metaphor for fertility and sustenance. The dragon, an ancient symbol for high spirituality, wisdom, strength, and divine powers of transformation, is a common motif found with Quan Yin.” WOW. So power, beautiful and perfect for the space.

I’m so glad that I was able to attend Mindful U. Cassie is so full of wisdom, kindness and I love being able to spend the day with her. I saw some familiar faces and met so many other great people. Can’t wait for the next retreat or seminar Cassie offers…you know I’ll be there!

Here are a few other quotes/images that I really love.

  

Meditation has done absolute wonders for me. I really do feel that these quotes hold true for me. Mindfulness IS a dance of happiness and I’m so happy to be doing this dance. Something has been missing from my life and it is meditation. I am so incredible happy and eternally grateful that I met Cassie back in 2012. I have said it before and I will say it again, I feel like Cassie has really “saved me”. It is because of her that I discovered the wonderful world of meditation and have made it a part of my life. I can’t thank you enough Cassie!

Cassie will be offering another Mindful U seminar in February 2016. Check it out and join us!

XoXo

P.S. Hope you all are having a great week so far! Looking forward to having the day off from work tomorrow for Veteran’s Day.

Meditation Challenge 

Deepak Chopra and Oprah are at it again…it’s time for another 21 Day Meditation Challenge! It’s hard to believe, but this is my 8th challenge with them. I’m really excited to be participating again and have successfully completed the first week of the challenge.

The theme for this challenge is Manifesting Grace through Gratitude. Could this be any more perfect?! What I love is that these challenges always seem to pop up at exactly the right time! I’m always in a place where I could use a little more support or a little more focus. I love how that works out…kinda like magic. The image below works beautifully with how I am feeling and the essence of this challenge.

Practicing gratitude and manifesting grace has been such a wonderful experience so far during this challenge. They are both really beautiful concepts that are not hard to incorporate in your daily life. I’ve been keeping a daily gratitude journal for a few years now and I think it really helps keep me grounded, focused and in the PRESENT moment. Throughout my mediation practice and even during these challenges the idea of being in the present and recognizing you are IN the present moment is always a big focus.

I am GRATEFUL! Especially GRATEFUL for all the things my practice has shown me and made me feel. It really has been a transformative experience since I started meditating and actively making it a part of the daily life.

Like I have mentioned before, each day there is a different topic/theme that relates to the overall theme of the challenge, a centering thought for the day, a Sanskrit mantra, and a message of the day with a related quote (I love a good/meaningful quote)! The meditations are no more than 20 minutes and pretty easy to do each day. I always enjoy listening to Deepak and Oprah share their wisdom and it’s nice to have a few minutes where I get to be with myself.

Be sure to check out the challenge and join in if you would like. I promise it will be worth it! Until then…namaste.

P.S. I’m currently at 165 days of meditation! Waaahooooo!

Exhale: A Mini Mindfulness Retreat & Reunion 6.7.15

On Sunday 6.15.15 I had the pleasure of attending another one of Cassie’s fabulous retreats, Exhale: A Mini Mindfulness Retreat & Reunion. This retreat took place at the beautiful Mercy Center in Burlingame. Exhale was my second retreat at the Mercy Center and I just love being there. It is simply the perfect place for practicing mindfulness and meditation. Not only is the Mercy Center beautiful and peaceful, you also feel a real sense of spirituality while being there.

During the mini retreat we started with a light lunch made by Cassie. She is such a wonderful cook and her food is always so vibrant in color, tasty and made with so much love! One thing that Cassie always practices at each retreat is the idea of activity and rest, activity and rest. So when we get into our practice that’s exactly what we do. We start with an “activity” and then do something to “rest”. We started the retreat with the body scan. To be honest, the body scan is not one of my most favorite meditation practices haha. For some reason, I just can’t really get into it and sometimes I just have a hard time focusing. However, I’m going to keep trying! If anyone wants to sample a body scan, try it here.

After the body scan we did some mindful stretching and then got the opportunity to watch The Connection. The Connection: Mind your Body is a documentary about understanding the link between your mind, boy and health. The film features scientists, researchers, writers and doctors, as well as remarkable true stories of people adding mind body medicine to their healing toolkit to recover from a variety of issues. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn was featured in the film; he is known for developing the 8 week Stress Reduction Program (MBSR). Cassie is trained in MBSR Certification with the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the UMASS Medical Center. The film also featured Dr. David Spiegel who has done a lot of work at Stanford University. Small world…his daughter Julia and I went to middle and high school together! Pretty cool to see her Dad feature in this documentary!

It was amazing to view such a powerful documentary. Time and time again it not only shows, but really proves that there is a strong connection between the mind, body and health. Meditation and other relaxation techniques play a vital role in stress reduction and in leading a more health and balance life. I strongly recommend everyone to view The Connection if possible. It might be the best thing that happens to you!

After viewing the movie we headed to another “activity” which was a walking meditation on the outdoor labyrinth. This is probably one of my favorite things to do at the Mercy Center. On the way to the labyrinth you walk through/pass by so many beautiful trees, flowers and little seating areas. There are also a variety of statues or figurines throughout the gardens. Below is one of my favorites. I’m really drawn towards anything Japanese related. This pagoda and Japanese maple along the path to the labyrinth just embodies peace and clarity to me.

Here is the beautiful outdoor labyrinth at the Mercy Center. Fr. Thomas Hand, SJ (founder of the East-West Meditation program at Mercy Center), built the Mercy labyrinth in 1997 as a place for walking meditation. I learned that all the work was done by hand by a small group of volunteers under Fr. Hand’s direction. It is stunning and so peaceful to me. I love that all around the labyrinth are fragrant roses and other lovely trees and bushes. One of the things I love most about doing the walking meditation on the labyrinth with a group is that throughout our journey on the path there are times we are all close together and then at other times we are separate and alone on the path. There is a sense that we are “doing this together” while also having a solo journey. Another thing I enjoy is that once the group makes it to the center, we all pause for a few minutes and just take in what a wonderful experience we all just shared. Then, people slowly start the path back out. It’s truly wonderful what happens on the labyrinth and I find it hard to completely articulate the experience…

I suggest anyone interested in walking a labyrinth to do so! The one at the Mercy Center is always open to the public! 

I feel so grateful to have had another opportunity to re-connect with former MBSR classmates and connect with new people! Meditation and mindfulness has become a huge part of my life and I have to thank Cassie for that introduction! I have experienced first hand the profound benefits mediation and continue to work hard to keep up my practice! It’s always a pleasure and joy to spend an afternoon with Cassie. I really value her insight and find her to be such an inspiration! If you’re reading this Cassie, THANK YOU again for such a wonderful and very relaxing afternoon! I am always amazed at how these retreats come at exactly the right time and when I need it the most!

100 Days of Meditation! 💕🙏🏻💕

Yesterday (5/16/15) marked 100 days of meditating! I honestly can’t believe that 100 days has already passed. Time has flown by…I guess I’ve been having fun! I really LOVE the below quote from Thich Nhat Hanh and feel like it captures exactly how I feel about meditation.This quote is so on point and I truly feel transformed since starting my practice 100 days ago! Meditation has been a part of my life on and off for the last few years, but it hasn’t exactly stuck. I’ve attended lots of different retreats but haven’t always been successful in fully incorporating meditation into my daily life. My dear friend and mentor Cassie would say “not to be hard on yourself” and “as long as you come back and keep at it that’s all that matters.” I’m so proud that I’ve kept at it and made meditation a priority in my life! Thank you Cassie for showing me the way and taking me on this journey with you! I honestly feel so much better and almost like a new person…Or the person I really, truly am. I’ve found my true self. This all might sound weird, but meditation has seriously saved me! I feel so much more balanced, calm, and at peace. Additionally, my stress level has been significantly reduced or at least feels more manageable when I do my practice. This image below is totally how I feel now!
    I’ve been in Hawaii for the past few days for work (very lucky I know!) and feel so fortunate to have reached my 100 day meditation mark in such a beautiful place! I’m still thinking of some way to celebrate or recognize in some way reaching this milestone…for now I’ll just remember having this view while meditating. 

 I have experienced first hand the amazing benefits of mediation and plan to continue my practice. Meditating is a big part of my life now and something that I actually need. I’m so excited to be on this journey and can’t wait to see where it takes me! Wishing you all peace, happiness, and love!! 💕💕