Morning rituals: finding a sustainable practice that sustains you

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Sunrise

Let’s talk morning rituals. Over the past year, I’ve read tips on making the most of the initial hours in a day—from “eating the frog” to exercising to avoiding social media to praying or fasting. Although I’ve tried all of the above and more, my focus over the past year and a half has included three top priorities: prayer, purpose and performance. During the first hour of my day, I reconnect to my “source” through devotions and Bible readings. Then, I journal for 15-20 minutes before jumping into that day’s creative pursuits. Finally, I hop on my exercise bike, hit the yoga mat and power walk through my neighborhood or head for the mountain trails. And not only has this morning ritual sustained me during an unsettled 2020 and into the new year, but it also proves to be a sustainable practice that I can adjust as needed.

Visit my new home at chrismadayschmidt.com and let me know what type of practice, morning or otherwise, sustains you?

Set it and let it go: how to be fully present

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This past week I attended a gong meditation at the yoga studio where I practice. If you’ve never tried a gong “bath,” I highly recommend it—if only for a bit of respite from the outside world. The benefits? I’ve read that the sound of the gong cuts through our mental chatter—the monkey mind—to create a meditative state of deep relaxation to promote healing and stress reduction. Talk about a win-win. Personally speaking, I also experienced an emotional release, including overwhelming gratitude that began in the mountains earlier that day to return full circle on my mat, tears streaming down my face. In addition, I learned that when we set an intention, it’s good to set it and let it: go. Oftentimes we get stuck on the expectation behind our intention, which can lead to disappointment. However, when we practice “setting it and letting it go,” we free ourselves to remain fully present in the moment.

What intention do you need to set and let go?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Dealing with loss: a new way to approach closed doors

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Open doors are often viewed as gateways to fresh opportunities. Conversely, we might assume a closed door denotes an end. However, I read an article recently that describes doors in an expanded light: closed doors can also signify new beginnings. When a metaphorical door is closed in our lives, and we accept it as our new reality, we grant ourselves permission to grow in other areas. Perhaps you’ve experienced a closed door through the loss of a friendship, hope or health. Rather than mourn the end, I believe it’s healthier to carve out space to reconnect with or rediscover the spark of your truest self. This may be revealed in your sacred place—through a creative outlet or a commune with nature, meditation or a mini-getaway. Allow the door to your heart to remain open. Resume living. And trust that, although your path might look different than you’d imaged, it can lead to a new beginning if you allow it.

What door has recently closed in your life?

Photo courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

What I learned after skipping yoga for more than a week

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Yoga Toe Stand

Over the past two years, I’ve only missed three or four consecutive days of Bikram yoga practice, until last week when I missed nine. Beforehand, I wondered what I’d do with the extra time, or if I’d go a little crazy(ier) without my regular dose of moving meditation. But not only did I survive, I discovered:

1) I had almost forgotten how to spend time alone, and how to make plans without working around my yoga classes. Life exists outside of the hot room.
2) The practice of “yoga” (the “physical, mental and spiritual disciplines that aim to transform body and mind” according to Wikipedia) looks differently to everyone. It can be a walk or bike ride, or may consist of stretching exercises, devotions or breathing through a difficult situation.
3) I need to make a habit of scaling back in life. This allows for other ways to nurture my physical, mental and spiritual health.

How easy is it for you to take a break from your favorite activity(ies)?

A simple touch of kindness

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A simple touch of kindness

[Image credit: chrisroll]

During Yoga practice and the spine strengthening series, yogis rest on their stomachs in between poses.  At that time, some of the instructors will “walk” on any eager feet.  The last time I was the recipient of this brief exchange, I was thankful for the willingness of my teacher to freely offer the gift of touch to her students.  During that moment of meditation, I felt a strong appreciation and wondered how many others in my life crave such a simple act of affection.  It seems we are more concerned about crossing over boundaries or insulting so we keep our distance.  That’s not what I want to be remembered for.  I would rather be thought of as the person who stepped outside her comfort zone and embraced a fellow mother, daughter, brother … human being.  Perhaps we’d be a lot happier if we didn’t worry so much about whom we offend, but instead care about those we friend.

Do you regularly show others kindness through a simple touch?