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woman meditating inside
Wellness
Published Tuesday Apr 21, 2020 by Dani Schenone

Relax and Recharge: Beginner Meditation and Techniques for Decreasing Stress

Meditation
Personal Growth
Yoga

At one time or another, we’ve all wished for more time. Really though, how many of us have asked for more than 24 hours in a day? Yep. All hands up, including mine. Prior to COVID-19 and sheltering in place, I was—to put it plainly—really busy. Running from one responsibility to the next was my comfort zone. Whether it was my achievement mentality or never saying “no,” my planner was consistently filled with to-dos, to-plans, and to-attends. Once a task was checked off the list, another had sneakily appeared, ready for my full attention. 


Life’s complexity offered an escape. 

This perpetual state of complexity allowed me to avoid. Being busy meant I didn’t have to do any inside work or meditation. I didn’t have time to deal with my anxiety and practice mindfulness while working full-time and going to graduate school at night. Because I always said “yes” to everything, there was no more room for activities that fueled my soul. Meditation requires hitting pause, and who has time to recharge from a busy work week with an endless weekend to-do list? 

But then, things changed. External factors have now placed us into a state of forced simplicity. Our planners and to-do lists are not what they once were, and we’ve had to drastically limit what we do. Many of us find ourselves wondering how the heck we are going to fill our time. The emotions that come from that can be uncomfortable.


It’s time to change our perspective. 

I know things are tough right now, and so much is out of our control. However, our power lies within our perspective. 

We have been gifted with the most amazing come-up: time. In a world where we constantly run on empty, we’ve been given a chance to recharge, refuel, calm our minds, and practice meditation without distractions. A mentor once told me, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” So, instead of stepping into old patterns of creating schedules and “being productive,” let’s sit with the stillness. Get cozy with it. And seek out its lessons.
 

[Book virtual meditation on Mindbody]


Below is your beginner's guide to starting your meditation practice (and no, the to-do list irony is not lost on me). 
 

Check in with your body. 

When was the last time you sat in silence and paid attention to how your body was feeling? Well, now’s the time. Find a time to meditate that works for you. Whether it's in the morning, on your lunch break or at the end of the day, it helps to practice meditation at the same time each day to develop a routine. Sit in a comfortable seat or lie down, and close your eyes. Notice the physical sensations—what do you feel, hear, smell, taste? Does anything ache or feel tight in your posture? How is the breath? Is it shallow or deep? 

Practicing the physical aspect of meditation helps increase our mindfulness of the present moment. We literally live inside our minds, so bringing the focus to our external selves allows us to deepen our mind-body connection.  


Go inward, and sit with what comes up. 

Stay in your comfortable position. Allow yourself to bring your attention to the things that worry you, and try to calm them. It could be anything, and don’t hold back. Notice what areas of the body tense as you focus. Does the chest tighten? Throat close? Maybe your stomach drops, or another entirely different sensation. 

So often we are told to remain positive and focus on the good, but sometimes things suck. Practicing inward reflection and mindfulness as we meditate forces us to sit with uncomfortable feelings, acknowledging their presence. It’s a necessary validation we often don’t receive from ourselves. It’s holding space to show how our bodies respond to our thoughts. 


Use the breath to release tension. 

Now, take a deep inhale—breathing into the very spots that are tense and trying to expand them with the breath. Use the exhalation to soften those tight or constricted spots, as if you could melt away the tension like butter. Repeat this breathing as many times as you need until your entire body is calm. 

Regulating our breath allows us to downregulate the sympathetic nervous system, which lets us, frankly, chill the heck out. Practicing this gives us a way to manage and calm the strong emotions that come up, whether it be fear, worry, or anxiety. 


Ask questions. 

As you remain in soft stillness and meditation, imagine doing something refreshing. Something that would recharge you. Think of something that would make you feel good and hopeful. Is it making a killer cup of coffee? Hiking that trail you’ve always wanted? Writing a colleague a thank-you note? Walking around the neighborhood? Cozying up on the couch? Calling a loved one? Baking a cake? Serving others by donating? Helping local small businesses? 

This is your time to figure out what fills your cup. It will be different each time you meditate, and that’s the point. With this, you can start to build a toolkit to pull from when you need to reset. It’s important to actually do the thing—without guilt or worrying about what else needs to get done. 

Time is a gift, and we’ve all been given more of it to some degree. When we give ourselves the freedom to use this time to meditate and refill our cups, we can better show up for others and the world. What are you doing to recharge? Let us know by posting on your Instagram story and tagging @mindbody!

 

Want to try a guided, virtual meditation? Check out classes on Mindbody!

Dani Schenone
Written by
Dani Schenone
Associate Project Manager
About the author
During the day, you can find Dani project managing the heck out of Mindbody’s B2B marketing efforts. When the clock strikes 5, she’s either teaching a sweaty power flow, completing a seven-step skincare routine (oily skin or bust), or catching the last bit of sun on any rolling hill in San Luis Obispo.
surfer catching wave in ocean olympics
Fitness
Published Friday Jul 23, 2021 by Bailey Clark

Why I’m Stoked Surfing Will Debut in the Olympics

Fitness

For the first time ever, the globe will be watching surfing take center stage at the 2020 (postponed to July 2021) Olympics. People from all over the world will be appreciating the sport, many for the first time.

This symbolizes the surfing community breaking through centuries of negative stereotypes. Though conditions play a big part in the sport, the biggest hurdle the athletes will have to overcome to see success is mental. The winner will be the one who chooses their waves wisely with their understanding of the conditions and ability to intimidate and therefore overcome components. Meanwhile, they will be challenging themselves to emerge from crashing barrels, fly into the air, and land on the shifting surface gracefully. No big deal. 

You’ve probably heard the invention of a wave pool, which creates the perfect man-made wave. In 2007, Kelly Slater founded his wave company with a passion to build the perfectly rideable wave at his surf ranch. It was debated whether the Olympics should be held in the ocean or on a manufactured wave, with many differing opinions on what would be right. The decision was made, and the event will take place in the sea, at Tsurigasaki Beach in Japan, about 40 miles east of Tokyo, where the rest of the 2021 games will be hosted.

As you watch, take a moment to reflect on the century of effort for this to happen. This initiative can be traced all the way back to the 1912 summer games that took place in Stockholm. Duke Kahanamoku, known as the father of modern surfing, won three gold medals in swimming, and while accepting his medal, he expressed that it was his dream to see surfing be added. To add fuel to the fire, International Surfing Association, recognized as the surfing world's governing authority by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), began lobbying for the inclusion of surfing in the Olympics in 1955.

The magic of surfing

Surfing is a multidimensional sport unlike any other. Nothing compares to paddling out to the serene silence that awaits beyond the breaking waves. Once you get out there, you immediately escape the many annoyances ingrained in everyday life—the constant notifications on your phone and laptop, your back-to-back schedule, answering to other people. You’re no longer on the time that your watch reads, you’re on mother nature’s time. You’re also no longer in control of your surroundings. Now, all you can do is surrender and wait for the next set to come, while trying to position yourself for when it does.

The high from catching the perfect wave is so addicting that surfers would fail on one hundred in a row just to catch that one. After you catch that perfect one, you replay it in your mind for the rest of the day.

A successful session is reliant on so many factors of mother nature—a force way bigger than us. For ideal conditions to exist, a good-sized swell must approach from the right direction, the wind must be flowing offshore, and you have to time your session right with the ebb and flow of the tide.

The sport is always teaching you life lessons. It is humbling, even if you’ve been practicing it for many years. One reason why it takes so long to master is that the conditions are going to be different every time you get out there. You might have caught a million yesterday, but today makes you feel like a kook because you can’t land one decent wave.

The community of people that you become a part of when you surf is special. A shared obsession with the ocean that brings you to dive into the water at dawn to get a session in bonds you quick. When you’re out there, you’ll find yourself interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds. People enjoy sharing the stoke of the sport. When you see someone out there teaching somebody new, you’ll encounter them cheering at the top of their lungs when they catch a good wave, and as you look around, you’ll see smiles all across the lineup. The other day, I caught a long wave in to be met with a cheering crowd of locals who frequent the spot that I do. When I got to shore, a local showed me their secret stash of hot packs to access in case I, or someone else, gets stung by a stingray when they aren’t around.

Being out in the ocean and abiding by her rules gives surfers a deep love and connection to nature. It’s common to see sea animals out there, like dolphins, stingrays, and fish. When you have an encounter, it’s a reminder that we are invading their territory. It sucks when you see trash floating in the water, or on the sand in its route to the water. It’s a sad reminder of the negative impact that humans can have on natural environments. It inspires you to pick up trash and advocate for sustainability so that we, as a collective, can take care of the beauty that we are lucky to have access to.

Tune in to see surfing break into the biggest international sporting event in the world beginning on Saturday, July 24th. 

Check out these surf classes on the Mindbody App

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About the author
Bailey Clark is a serial optimist whose passion for marketing lies within creating authentic connections to make the world happier and healthier. As a San Diego native, her favorite pastimes are surfing, F45, practicing yoga, meditation, and really any opportunity to soak up the sun.