May 25, 2017

Meditation Challenge: Day 10

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:47 am by kellyfdennis

Day 10 of the 10 minutes per day for 10 days meditation challenge was quite a surprise. I was attending a gathering and at the beginning of the gathering was a group meditation experience that I didn’t know was going to exist!

It was guided meditation to music, but in a room full of people. I felt a little quickening of my heart rate, a “well this is going to be weird” sort of thought. However, I think since I’ve been practicing, I was able to settle into the breathing pretty quickly, following along with the body scan, noticing any tension and letting it melt away, enjoying the moments of silence and then experiencing the visualization. At some point the awareness of the other people in the room was gone and it was totally just my experience in the moment.

What did I notice? I noticed that I felt apprehensive in the beginning, but was able to focus and really be present in the moment with my experience. I felt a sense of peace, and a noticeable reduction in tension. I was aware of a light hearted feeling at the end of the gathering. As I talked with others afterward, people’s reactions were mixed. Some thought it was “weird”, others were intrigued, and some others have been meditating for awhile so it was a nice experience for them as well. How cool was it that this experience came about at just the right time!

I hope my experience and blogging about it have piqued your interest in meditation. I intend to continue and attempt to make it a part of my morning routine more often than not. Thanks for journeying with me!

Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

May 24, 2017

Meditation Challenge: Day 9

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:44 am by kellyfdennis

I knew today needed to be a guided mediation day. At first I judged myself a little for that because I had wanted to shift to non guided by now. However, after thinking about it a little more, I gave myself kudos for knowing what I needed!

For day 9 of the 10 days for 10 minutes per day meditation challenge, I chose a guided  meditation by Tom Evans on the Insight Time app called “Just for Today”. He used gentle, guided words and soft music to create a very peaceful experience. This one was a bit different from other guided meditations I’ve done in that there were lengthy pauses for you to experience what he had just suggested. I liked that, it was a nice balance between silence and speaking. I was able to sit for the full 10 minutes pretty effortlessly.

What did I notice? I noticed a relaxed, curious kind of experience. I felt very tranquil and present. I especially liked when he guided me to acknowledge my thoughts and then let them drift away. There were elements of loving kindness and times to acknowledge feeling grateful. I liked this experience quite a bit and even felt myself smiling at the end.

I wonder what Day 10 will hold. Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

May 23, 2017

Meditation Challenge: Day 8

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:49 am by kellyfdennis

On Day 8 of the meditating 10 minutes per day for 10 days challenge, I began by reminding myself the reason I want to meditate. I want to “be” in the present moment, slowing down my body and mind, and sitting with whatever comes up. I chose to set the practice time for 10 minutes again, choosing the “wooden block” for the 5 minute interval and ending bells. I chose a loop of soothing guitar music for ambient sounds.

I settled in and noticed a difference in my attitude almost immediately. I didn’t feel pressured to breathe a certain way; after a few deep breaths, I allowed my breathing to be whatever it was going to be. At some points I was aware of the guitar music, at some points I was aware of anticipating the 5 minute interval bell. I just noticed these thoughts and returned to experiencing my breath. Just noticing how it felt coming in and going out of my body. I sat for the whole 10 minutes.

What did I notice? I was aware of a “letting go” sort of experience. I felt like I was more of an observer than an evaluator in this particular meditation. I think it was helpful to remind myself that I do have an intention in this that is beyond just marking something of my to-do list for the day. I noticed a willingness to notice the discomfort in my body and then just to let it be there.

I wonder what Day 9 will be like? Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

May 22, 2017

Meditation Challenge: Day 7

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:42 am by kellyfdennis

Day 7 of my 10 minutes per day for 10 days meditation challenge was probably my most interesting experience thus far. I have done guided mediations, music with guided meditations, and music only meditations to date. Since I’m wanting to practice existing in “being” mode more often, my goal was to eventually shift to a completely silent meditation. I decided I would do it in steps, seemed to make sense to me.

The Insight Timer app has, guess what, a meditation practice timer! So I set a beginning bell, an interval bell at 5 minutes and then an ending bell. I settled in to what is as quiet and comfortable place I could find in my house. This is no easy feat, we live on a busy road, I have a dog, a cat, a husband, and neighbors. The chances of my environment remaining quiet were slim, but I set about closing my eyes and settling in to my breathing.

While focusing on the rhythm of my breathing and the way it felt entering and exiting my body, I became immediately aware of the ringing in my ears that always exists (I have tinnitus). I tried a technique that works for me at night to fall back to sleep after waking, which is humming softly. The humming matches the pitch of the ringing and I can usually fall back to sleep without it bothering me. In this case, I wasn’t able to overcome the distraction caused by the ringing.

I have to admit, I did have some negative internal dialogue attached to this, but challenged it by saying that there was nothing wrong about meditating to ambient white noise. The end result should be the same. So I clicked the ambient noise of rain on the app, reset the bells and settled in again.

The rain noise helped and I was able to focus on my breathing once again and settle in. The 5 minute interval bell scared the !@#$ out of me! It took a couple of minutes for me to slow my heart rate and settling back into breathing. Eventually, I was able to feel pretty calm and peaceful. Just before the ending bell rang, I was aware of the thoughts that I was tired of rain, in real life and on the app; and the dog started whining to go outside!

What did I notice? Negative internal dialogue related to “Why can’t I do this? Yet another barrier.” As I said, though, I was able to challenge it and continue on to settling back in to sitting. I’m not surprised that the interval bell scared me, I have an easily triggered startle response; next time I’ll use the wooden bell which isn’t so harsh sounding. Overall, I’d say I’m learning what my meditation style is and how to work within it.

I’m looking forward to Day 8! Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

May 21, 2017

Meditation Challenge: Day 6

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:36 am by kellyfdennis

There are some things I’ve noticed so far in my challenge to meditate 10 minutes per day for 10 days. Routine is important. I have not developed a consistent time, place, and style of meditation because this is a new experience. I think it would help to work on settling into a routine. I’ve also noticed that the guided meditations create a situation in which my mind has something to focus on (the voice) and I experience less monkey brain. I am trying to stretch myself, though, and have moved to  music only and hope to move to silence by the end of this challenge.

On Day 6 I sat inside and chose a music only meditation: Serenity Spa Relaxation Music: Lullaby. This particular piece had an unmistakable rhythm and I found it easy to settle in to the rhythm of my breathing. After a few moments the busy day that was coming creeped into my thoughts. I thanked my  mind, and returned to breathing. I tuned into the rhythm of the piece, matched my breathing to the rhythm and was able to stay connected for a few minutes more. Unfortunately, I did not check the length of this music track, and it ended and moved to the next piece, which was a distraction for my mind.

As I attempted to settle in to the new music, I had the thought that maybe tomorrow was the time to try silence. Perhaps the music itself is too distracting. Overall, though, I was able to sit for a little longer than in past times.

I’m interested and curious to see what Day 7 holds! Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

May 20, 2017

Meditation Challenge: Day 5

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:49 am by kellyfdennis

The first 4 days of the meditating for 10 minutes per day for 10 days challenge have been interesting. Given the information I’ve gleaned thus far, I chose to meditate to just music today. Serenity Spa’s Healing Music selection. It is a piece that features piano with an instrumental background. I chose to sit inside again and settled into my breathing. It wasn’t long before I found my mind wondering about what the experience would be like today. I noted my mind wandering and brought my attention back to my breathing and the specific notes in the piano music.

After a few moments, I found myself reliving a memory of my grandmother teaching me to play the piano. UGH! It was a pleasant enough memory, but I thanked my mind for the happy memory and returned my focus to my breathing. I tried the mantra from one of the previous mediations: “Be” on the in breathe, “calm” on the out breath. I was able to settle in and sit for a few moments more. I returned my attention to the music, and after a little while, doesn’t my mind tell me “this music really is delightful, isn’t it?”

I took a big, deep breath and returned to the “be calm” mantra and was able to finish the few minutes I had left without the interference of monkey brain.

What did I notice? Frustration! Looking back I am aware that I had an unsettled feeling when I started. Next time I notice a feeling like that I will address it before I sit to meditate. I think I had the thought “I have to do this today no matter how I feel”, which of course, derailed the experience.

I am curious to see what Day 6 holds! Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

May 19, 2017

Meditation Challenge: Day 4

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:12 am by kellyfdennis

On Day 4 of the 10 minutes per day for 10 days meditation challenge on which I am embarking, I chose Morning Meditation on the Insight Timer app. This was a guided meditation with soothing background music. I sat inside today in my office because it was pretty hot outside. My office is serene and pleasant, so I felt comfortable here as well. I practiced the meditation during a pretty busy day and was hoping to create a little calm as I went into the rest of my schedule.

After convincing myself that I did indeed have time to meditate and it would help me with my busy day, I followed along and was guided through focusing on my breathing and then becoming aware of the sun warming my body from my toes up. I was able to focus on breathing and concentrated on creating the warm feeling from the sun in each body part as it was mentioned. I was aware of brief moment of monkey brain, but was able to pretty quickly bring  my attention back to the breathing and focusing on the warmth of the sun on my body. I sat for the whole 10 minutes and was not influenced by body discomfort today.

What I noticed? No surprise, this was more effortless because it was guided. The person’s voice was calm and soothing, as was the music.  I felt refreshed and energized at the end of the practice.

Interested and curious to see what Day 5 holds! Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

May 18, 2017

Meditation Challenge: Day 3

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:14 am by kellyfdennis

I’ve been using guided imagery for years and I like it a lot. I first discovered it when I was trying to learn to meditate many years ago. It worked better for me because it gave my mind something to do: listening to the voice, following the instructions, generating the images in my mind. It has been researched and found to be very helpful both physically and psychologically. I use it frequently and for many things from managing chronic pain to helping me prepare for public speaking. I have to say that I like it so much, I will probably always use it. That being said, however, it still puts my mind in “doing” mode. So, one of the reasons I am embarking on this challenge is to help my mind become more comfortable with “being” mode. I believe meditation targets “being” mode in a different way than guided imagery.

On Day 3 of the 10 minutes per day for 10 days meditation challenge, I chose a music only meditation: Source of Life: Guitar and Strings on the Insight Timer app. I sat outside again, facing the old majestic oak tree and settled in listening to the lovely guitar music and sounds of waves crashing on the beach. I began to pay attention to my breathing, in and out, rise and fall, how it felt on the tip of my nose. After a few moments, I realized I was thinking about my afternoon and evening clients, mapping out their sessions and what I hoped to address. So, I thanked my mind for trying to problem solve and then guided my attention back to my breathing.

After, I don’t know how long, I became aware of a rhythm of my breath, the rise and fall of the music, the ebb and flow of the sounds of crashing waves. I felt a somewhat detached feeling, not unpleasant, and just focused on the rhythm. After a bit I became aware that my mind had gone to images of the beach and memories of times my family had spent at the beach. Again, not unpleasant, but I chose to thank my mind for the happy memories and guided it back to my breathing.

I settled in again, trying not to be judgmental and frustrated with monkey brain, and focused on the rhythm of the music and the waves and my breathing. I think I hung in a little longer that time, but after a bit, I began to notice an urge to move my body. I became aware of the discomfort in my torso and legs and told myself to just breathe through it. The urge to move, however, overcame the breath and I opened my eyes and stood and stretched. Noticing the time on the timer, I had been sitting for 12 minutes.

What did I notice? I noticed it was challenging for my mind to stay focused without someone talking; I noticed that I had that detached feeling, which I am interpreting as a positive mediation experience; I noticed that my mind likes to create images; I noticed that the physical discomfort in my body distracts me from the experience eventually.

I’m interested and curious to see what Day 4 holds!  Be Well and Have a Wonderful day!

May 17, 2017

Meditation Challenge: Day 2

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:19 am by kellyfdennis

So, I know that when one is doing an experiment, all variables should remain constant to the best of one’s ability. So, with apologies to science, I changed it up on Day 2. On Day 2 of my 10 minutes per day for 10 days mediation challenge, I chose to sit outside. There’s a lovely old oak tree near my office that I sat facing. I knew one of the challenges would be that my office is on the corner of two very busy streets, so I wondered how the street noise would affect my experience.

I chose “Natural Stress Relief” on the Insight Timer app. This one was a guided meditation with relaxing background music. The person guiding the mediation took me through a mini body awareness exercise and then focusing on breathing, with a mantra. I settled in with my headphones in and was very aware of the breeze on my face and the traffic noises outside. However, after a few moments (I didn’t peek this time), I was able to focus on the breathing and the sound of his voice.

Since I also record guided imagery, mindfulness relaxation, and guided meditations, I can get caught up in listening to another person’s technique, pauses, voice quality, and rhythm. This tripped me up for a bit, but then I went back to focusing on my breathing and was able to reconnect with his voice and follow along. I made it all the way through (this one was about 13 minutes long), and felt pretty refreshed when I opened my eyes.

What did I notice? I seemed a little more effortless today, being outside was helpful, I think. I was very aware of my initial curiosity about his technique, but once I let that go, I think the guided voice helped me focus and stay out of monkey brain a little more easily. I also noticed that my body, although still feeling the discomfort, felt a little more relaxed when I finished.

I am curious to see what day 3 holds! Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

May 16, 2017

Meditation Challenge: Day 1

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:20 am by kellyfdennis

I am embarking on a curious adventure to meditate for 10 minutes per day for 10 days. I want to observe the process and note any changes I notice in myself as the days go on. I hope to be a able to be consistent as well in blogging my experience.

Day 1 started with exploring the Insight Timer app (thanks, Maricelle!). It’s a free app with many, and I mean many, free meditation music creations, guided imagery, guided meditations, podcasts, etc. For my first selection, I chose “Music Meditation: Morning Dew”. It was a delightful mix of flowing, soothing music and nature sounds. I concentrated on my breathing and settled in, enjoying my body’s response to quieting and listening. That last for what seemed like an eternity, but alas, I peeked and only 3 minutes had gone by. UGH!

I was not wanting to be undone by this, so I refocused my breathing and settled in to listening to the changes in music while paying attention to my breathing. This back and forth seemed to work pretty nicely and I was able to last about another 5 minutes.  For the last 2 minutes of the 10 minute meditation, I was very aware of the discomfort in my body, while simultaneously trying to focus on the music and my breathing.

So what did I notice? I was aware of a slowing of my breathing and a more peaceful sense in my body and mind during the 5 minutes I was able to sit quietly. I was mindful of how much I connected with the music and the rhythm of my breathing. Even though I am trying not to judge my experience, I have to admit that I felt frustrated with not being able to sit conformably in my body for 10 minutes. I did notice a quick return to focusing on deep breathing later in the day during a particularly stressful moment. I am pretty adept at that, though, so I’m not sure if meditating in the morning had anything to do with it.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Day 2 holds! Be Well and Have a Wonderful Day!

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