Posted by Ellen Sichel on October 11, 2012
There are so many tasks throughout our day we deem unimportant but necessary to accomplish. Before we know it, a big portion of our day is spent “getting tasks over with”, and we miss out on many opportunities for enjoyment..
Eckhart Tolle, in his book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment says: “As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love—even the most simple action.”
There are simple practices that will cultivate the moment-by-moment experience that both the yoga text and Tolle are speaking about. Give this a try next time you clean, wash the dishes, dust, iron, sweep, or do any other tedious task:
- Take a few breaths and feel your feet on the floor.
- Scope out what needs to be done.
- Pick a place to begin.
- With each movement, watch how the object you are cleaning changes.
- Notice the state of your body. If you are uncomfortable, shift your alignment.
- If you find your awareness drifting away, reset your attention to what you are doing.
- Continue to notice each step of the process until you finish.
- Now, look at the end result and notice the changes.
- Check in and become aware of how you feel.
When you bring this deeper level of awareness to your activities, you will notice how much more there is to appreciate throughout your day. The smallest shift will open you to a variety of opportunities that enrich and uplift your life in a way that you could not imagine.
Let me know in the comments below how this simple technique shifted your experience accomplishing the task.
Posted by Ellen Sichel on April 25, 2012
Balance and bone strength is an issue for many of us. Some of us can not participate in any high impact exercise, but learning to lean through your bones for support will help.
Yoga's Mountain Pose has many applications and you can use it as a way to improve balance and bone strength.
- Stand with your feet parallel to one another about hip width apart with your spine upright and if possible allow the sides of your feet to be parallel as well.
- Look straight ahead with a soft gaze.
- Bring your awareness to the connection to your feet on the floor and notice the distribution of your weight.
- Shift your weight into your left foot as if it was making an imprint in the sand.
- Allow your body to let go into that side (your other foot is on the floor). Stay with this for about 20 seconds.
- Now, come back to center and notice if that leg is more connected to the floor.
- Do the other side and then come back to center.
This is a great practice to help those wanting to improve balance or bone density as well as overall bone health. It is also a wonderful way to draw your awareness back to the moment when you are feeling stressed.
Do you feel more stable as you stand? Are you heavier into the floor? Let me know in the comments below what you noticed.
Posted by Ellen Sichel on February 27, 2012
A recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution focused on injuries while practicing yoga.
The main reason is we push beyond our limitations because we pay attention only to our thoughts. Our body has infinite wisdom, and the practice of yoga is to stay in awareness from the inside-out. Being aware means noticing what the mind is telling you and checking in with your body.
Your body will tell you the truth and your mind will tend to judge.
At times it is difficult to know whether you are pushing too much or you are really able to go a bit further. Here are a few simple tips that will help.
- If you are comparing yourself to someone else, chances are you are overdoing it.
- If you are going further because a teacher told you to, you are not listening to your body.
- If you cannot breathe into the pose when it is painful, then back out.
- If you feel a stretch and you can breathe and relax into it, then you are okay.
- If you feel a stretch and when you take an easy breath and you cannot release and go deeper, then you should ease out a bit.
Let me know in the comments below what you noticed. Did you push beyond your limitations? If so, why do you think that happened?
Posted by Ellen Sichel on June 24, 2011
When clients come to me with back pain, it is usually in the lumbar area of their spine. The lumbar area is in the lowest part of the spine, just above your sacrum and is most subject to injury.
Here are some interesting facts about lumbar pressure in various positions:
- Sitting hunched over a desk- 200 lbs.
- Sitting leaning back on chair with low back rounded- 150 lbs.
- Sitting upright with feet elevated- 100 lbs.
- Standing with leaning forward posture- 200 lbs.
- Standing in proper alignment:– 100 lbs.
- Laying flat on back- 55 lbs.
- Laying flat on back with knees elevated- 25lbs.
There are easy ways to take pressure off of the lumbar spine and with the differences in compression and pressure, you can see how modifications to standing, sitting and lying down can make a big difference.
The first step is to become mindful and aware of how you are using your body. Let me know in the comments below what you noticed about your posture throughout your day.
*Rehabilitation of the Spine: A Practitioner’s Manual.
Posted by Ellen Sichel on May 16, 2011
Throughout the day we encounter both challenging and joyful situations. Usually our focus gets locked on a specific aspect of our experience and we miss out on the range of what is in front of us.
There is more happening in each moment than we imagine and we have the capacity to embrace our experiences more fully.
1. Go outside (or look through a window), standing or sitting comfortably and look straight ahead at nature.
2. Focus on one thing that is in your line of sight.
3. Without turning your head, expand your awareness to the entire scope of what is in front of you.
4. Notice whatever subtle changes come about without getting caught up in thought. It could be a slight breeze, a shadow, an insect or bird, a small movement of a leaf or some other shift.
5. Take a few breaths as you continue to notice.
Everything in front of you was happening at the same time.
You can experience more joy and clarity in life when you live mindfully.
Try this and let me know in the comments below what happened. Did you see more that you first thought was there? Were you able to stay in the moment? How do you feel now?
Posted by Ellen Sichel on May 2, 2011
Walking is something we do to get from one place to the other without much thought. For most of us we walk with ease, at the speed we choose.
Have you ever been walking and the next moment you are stumbling? There is no need to pay attention to the mechanics of walking because we walk automatically. When you trip it is because your mind is not where your feet are planted.
When you learn something new, you pay careful attention to detail and do it mindfully.
Take a few minutes and experience walking as if you were first learning to do it. Practice paying attention to each and every step.
Try this slow motion walking:
Try to notice each and every movement with no particular destination. You can keep your hands by your sides, or behind your back. You can do this indoors or outside. Keep your focus straight ahead.
There are 5 steps:
- Moving Forward
- Placing Heel first
- Shifting you weight
- Push off with your toes
Keep totally focused on this slow motion walking and see what you notice.
Was it difficult? Easy? What did you learn from this experience? Let me know in the comments below. You are welcome to ask any questions.
Posted by Ellen Sichel on April 29, 2011
We have around 60,000 thoughts a day, and I venture to say that most of them are not uplifting! If you have ever tried to quiet your mind, you see just how busy and it is. It is referred to as the “monkey mind” because it is all over the place.
What you think about becomes the reality of who you are, and you live within this limited awareness. Yet, you are much more…
Visualize an ocean. The endless waves on top are your thoughts. They are the most evident and easiest to identify, yet they are only on the surface.
The waves, no matter how strong, are still only a tiny part of the ocean. You keep your focus on the waves alone and your ability to see the oceans enormity is obscured.
You are the entire ocean. Your capacity is astounding and when your mind gets still, even if it for a moment, you are able to can experience what you are capable of.
What is your capacity today?
Posted by Ellen Sichel on March 30, 2011
Concrete research has proven that meditation has powerful benefits. Back in August 4,2003, the cover of Time magazine shows a woman meditating with a caption that says:
New Age mumbo jumbo? Not for millions of Americans who meditate for health and well-being.
The article studied Students, Federal Trade Commission Attorneys and Prisoners as part of the study and findings were significant.
Many cannot fathom how something as non -evasive as meditation, can improve anxiety, spiritual connection, coronary disease, cancer, focus and more. There is an abundance of scientific proof available on the power of meditation.
Check out the following:
M.I.T studies showed over time, the neurons in the brain will adapt themselves to direct activity in the frontal, concentration-oriented area of the brain. In other words, you learn to be totally aware of the moment, increasing concentration and focus. Kamikaze pilots are trained to have this level of awareness.
Meditation is here to stay and will change your life. Why not give it a try?
Posted by Ellen Sichel on March 28, 2011
To optimize the benefits of breath, you want your breathing to be deeper, slower, quieter and more regular. This simple technique will help you notice how effective your breathing is. Remember, to do this technique with no judgment.
The first step to change is awareness.
1. Sit comfortably with your spine erect, with your arms and legs uncrossed and your feet solidly on the floor.
2. Close your eyes or have a softly gaze ahead.
3. Bring your awareness to your breath without trying to influence it in any way, following it with your mind.
4. Notice the quality of your breath.
5. Notice the depth, notice the pace, notice the rhythm.
6. Become aware of the rise and fall of your chest and belly.
What did you notice about your breath? Was it deep, or shallow? Did your belly rise and fall, or was the breath in your upper body? Let me know what you noticed in the comments below. Please contact me with any questions.
Posted by Ellen Sichel on March 25, 2011
“Much of human misery is caused by the fact that we live our lives mechanically, never properly attending to what it is to be alive.” -Georgei Guridieff
This powerful quote sums up what all great traditions refer to when they speak about awakening.
To be awake means to be completely conscious, to be aware of yourself and your surroundings.
So, what really is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the non-judgmental awareness of the moment.
The core point here is non-judgment. Think about it- when we judge, where is that judgment coming from? It comes from our experiences and those experiences are from the past. It comes from our mind.
In the moment, you are present to what is happening and when you are present, you are not thinking about situations or sensations that cause stress or pain. This is the ultimate practice. You begin to embrace your experiences and there is a deep freedom and sense of aliveness that comes with that.
Do you live life in the moment?