Posts In: yoga

Meditation: Cool Tool #52

January 31, 2013

I can’t believe I left mediation to last in the 52 Cool Tools series.

It’s one of my most treasured daily tools. That’s part of what makes it so hard to write a


That and the thousands of ways you can practice meditation.

 Is Your Meditating Device Broken?

I hear people say they’re not good at meditating. They’re either not sure how to go about it. Or they’re tried and they just can’t get their mind to focus.

I also struggled with meditation. It didn’t come easily. My mind moved. And moved. And moved.

One weekend back in the late 80’s I went to a weekend retreat somewhere in Ohio.. The meditation teacher devoted a lot of time to questions. Here’s some of what I learned from her. (Unfortunately I don’t know her name. Heck, I can’t even remember what city it was near.)

  1. Set aside a regular time for meditation. With a regular time it becomes a habit. With repetition your body and mind start to understand what you expect. Giving meditation a dedicated times says it’s important.
  2.  Set aside a regular place. I claimed a space in my home. Then I added a few items that felt sacred to me, as well as a blanket and eye bag. Now I don’t have to think about where to be. I just head to my spot. Plus the energy of meditating in a space shifts the vibration of that space making it easier to meditate there.

 Achieving a Quiet Mind, Not!

One of my former yoga students used to attend silent retreats. The other students were curious and a little in awe. They belonged to the “I tried to meditate and it didn’t work for me” school.

One day someone asked him, “How do you get your mind to stop?”

The silent retreat dude laughed. “I don’t. I just aim for more and longer periods of silence.”

When I finally learned to be present with whatever happened during my meditation time I relaxed. Some days I go quickly into a deeply altered state. Some days I replay the conversation I just had. I think about an idea for an article I want to write, a class I want to teach. I make a mental to-do list.

And still I sit.

Different strokes

I found trying various styles of meditation helpful. So many choices ranging from ancient spiritual traditions to cutting edge technology. Your best choice will depend on your goals and your personality. You can:

  • Focus on your breath.
  • Use a meditation cd like holosync or a guided visualization.
  • Chant a mantra. (A mantra is a sound, word, or phrase that you repeat.)
  • Try a moving meditation such as walking or yoga.

If you’ve tried meditation and given up I encourage you to explore other styles. I encourage you to make it part of your self care routine.

 Why it’s now a daily part of my life

So what do I get from meditation? I feel soothed. My usually very active mind slows down. It even goes blank sometimes. I come back to my center. I connect to the divine. My problems and concerns melt away. I access the better, calmer, happier parts of me. I feel bliss and joy.

Yeah, it’s good stuff!

What’s your favorite style of meditation? Any pointers or tips to share from your experience?



I love this pose for times when I need a quick refresher. You’ll love it if you’ve been traveling, but aren’t ready to stop for sleep. Also great for longs days of standing. Or really anytime you feel tired and need some quick renewal. 

You’ll feel better with even a couple of minutes, but if you can devote at least five minutes that would be even better.

Skip the pose if you have glaucoma. And if you’ve got serious back or neck issues you’ll want to talk to an experienced yoga teacher or your health care person before proceeding.

 Have you tried this pose? Your favorite quick “renewer?”  

In the last post I promised you more on the subject of achy forearms. If you’ve ever practiced yoga you’re probably familiar with the pose locust or salabhasana.

Locust is one of those poses that looks like it would be easy. You’re lying on the floor after all. But try it and you’ll find your heart rate will rise with just one round of this potent asana.

You’ll get lots of benefits from practicing the entire pose. But I told you we were going to focus on stretching your arms.

 Watch the video and you’ll see what I’m talking about. 

Travel with Yoga

Once on a week adventure to the island of Cozumel my luggage didn’t arrive. I wore felt clogs on the plane from Indiana.  (I know, what was I thinking.)  Without my suitcase those clogs were my only shoes and it was in the high 80’s.

My suitcase also contained the essentials for a week of fun in the sun: snorkeling gear, bathing suits, sunscreen…

As you can imagine I was pretty anxious to get my bag pronto. The airline official asked if there was anything in my bag that would identify it as mine. Bathing suits and beach towels was not making my suitcase stand out.

Then I remembered my yoga mat. It even had my name on it. My luggage was retrieved and we had a great week.

Thank you yoga mat.

I take a yoga mat or my yoga paws every time I travel. But yoga isn’t just for when I reach my destination. It’s my bud in the air, on the train, in the car, and while waiting.

In fact, I’ve practiced yoga on many a plane and in airports around the world. I even led a group of fellow travelers in a yoga session while we were all stranded at a jungle airport in Peru.

If you’re familiar with yoga bring along your mat and a few poses you can do from a seated position: spinal flex, a gentle seated twist, a neck stretch…If yoga is foreign to you, then commit to learning a few poses for the plane.

If you prefer having a mat, you might want to get one just for travel. They sell ultra-light ones. I bought one that folds and then, because I’m short, I was able to cut some length off to save weight and space.

Your favorite travel moves?


Breath awareness is one of my favorite de-stressing tools. Three cool things about breath.

  1. Ever present. It’s true that if you stop breathing all your stress will go away. But as long as you’re still breathing, you’ll have this tool at the ready to help you de-stress.
  2. Free. No cost to install or maintain this tool.
  3. Reminds you that you’re connected to something larger. You can’t breathe in isolation. With every breath you’re recycling breath that’s been breathed by your loved ones, your irritating neighbor, a petunia, your dog, Buddha… No such thing as a virgin breath.

By altering your breath you can feel more relaxed, more energized, more confident, more present, more intuitive… But before you start changing your breath, get acquainted first.

I’ve included a 4-minute breath meditation.

It’s something you can listen to often. What did you learn from your breath?

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