Letting go of shame: Observational Meditation


Shame: it’s ugly head pops up and creeps in, most awkwardly and uncomfortably. With new experiences, relationships, and the deepening of such, I see anew where shame still lives. Seemingly never fully out of its grasp (we are always a work in progress), I use awareness and meditation to face it and then let it go without fanfare (because it doesn’t need or deserve much of my energy or focus). 

The best tool I have found to let go of shame, and any other unwanted emotion or feeling, is through the practice of Observational Meditation. Here’s how I do it:

1. I find a comfortable position, lying down or seated, somewhere quiet and where I won’t be bothered. I decide on a time: 2 minutes, 10 minutes, or longer as desired, and I set my meditation timer. (I use the free app I-Qi timer.)

2. I begin to still myself. Breathe. I settle down and settle in. Taking my time, I begin to label thoughts as they arise. (This helps us become less invested in them and breaks the chains of identity to them. Labeling also separates beliefs from reality.) Taking time to label these thoughts, perhaps even a few times, I get to their root feeling, emotion, belief, or other such deep connection. I often exhale when I get to the core thought, then I know I’ve got it. (If you have a hard time deciding which is the core thought, that’s fine, just pick a label and go with it. The body/mind/spirit will speak to you again. Remember, it’s all just practice.)

3. After labeling the thoughts, I become aware of where I feel this thought in the body. This may come easily, or sometimes I have to sit with the thought/label for some time before I’m able to identify where it lives in my body. I stay with the thought long enough to actually feel it, remembering that the goal isn’t to change or get rid of anything but to observe and experience whatever arises. Sometimes this actually works the other way around: I feel and become very aware of a feeling/area within my body, and then I label it. 

4. That’s it! I just sit with the feeling/labeled thought for as long as I need for it to dissipate and lose its hold on me. Usually this is a matter of seconds before a new thought arises and I move on, but sometimes it’s a minute or so. This is such a simple practice, but one that is super powerful and one that does take effort. 

The fun news is that since practicing this technique in comfort and quiet, I can now do this anywhere and at any time, and really, this is the point: to embody this tool and use it when feelings of shame or anything else that no longer serves, arises. 

The harder we resist, the stronger unwanted feelings become. It’s the Self’s way to get our attention to make a change. Think of this practice like a dog that needs to go to the bathroom. He will continue to bark or whine or pester you until you let him out. Our body, mind, and spirit are the same: communicating to us through thoughts and feelings to get our attention to act. 

Shame sucks. Here’s to letting to go and moving on!

Let me know how it works for you. 

xoxo

4 reasons why to go on a yoga retreat

There is something special about traveling, even just a little ways from home, and embarking on new adventures. A yoga retreat can offer many new and exciting experiences but true to the spirit of yoga, it can be the much needed refreshment and rejuvenation that one needs in our fast paced lives. After my first yoga retreat experience, I was immediately inspired to host my own and offer this incredible gift to those that I love and teach. A yoga retreat can truly be a life changing experience and one I hope you get to know. Here’s a few reasons why yoga retreats are so wonderful and why I think you’d like them:

1. It’s about rejuvenation. 

However long or short, a yoga retreat gets us out of the familiar: patterns, surroundings, habits, and offers us the chance to slowdown, breathe, to look at what’s truly important and to be. With this new perspective, we find appreciation for the simple and a refreshment from the everyday, only to gain the reminder just how amazing every day truly is.

2. We meet new, like-minded friends. 

I’ve traveled alone to nearly every yoga retreat I’ve attended and I’ve made some deep and lasting friendships, friendships that are some of the most special and important to me now. A yoga retreat brings together people who care about growing in the yogic principles of compassion, truthfulness, giving, awareness, equanimity, purity, contentment, cleansing/health, consciousness, and celebration of the spiritual (this list is of the yamas and niyamas: part of the yogic path developed 1000’s of years ago). Coming together, with people you know or don’t know and sharing in this beautiful growth, can be very impactful and lasting.

3. We can take our yoga practice deeper. 

A retreat offers the opportunity to dive in and focus and practice meditation, pranayama/breath, and asana/physical postures without the distractions of kids or work or our spouse or the laundry. We can go deep and build new habits, all while a safe and supportive environment, and usually in a beautiful(!) setting. During a yoga retreat, we can truly experience, yoga: union.

4. A yoga retreat is a time for you. 

We can only be as strong for others as we, ourselves, are strong. You work hard and give a lot. A yoga retreat is a much needed and restorative break, so you can go back, able to give more, ans be healthier and happier for those you love and work with on a daily basis. A yoga retreat is just as much for you as it is for those around you.

I host several retreats a year. Join me, or find your own, and enjoy this rich gift.

xoxo