Friday, May 22, 2015

Self-Care By Adrian Molina

The pace of the city keeps you on your toes, from dawn to sunset and even late at night. We are so driven to accomplish things, always striving to build a future. A reputation. A name. A family. An identity. But sometimes, in the city that never sleeps, we forget the importance of self-care.

When the scale has been tilted too much and too long to one side, it is difficult to come back to a state of balance and bring things into perspective. A life of constant doing and activity becomes a vicious cycle that can be hard for even the most advanced yogi or meditator to break.

Often, I see my students struggling to bring some sense of balance to their lives. They come straight from the airport to take a class. They use their lunch hour to practice. They secretly hope for a scheduled meeting to be canceled so they can find some space to do yoga. I see them taking off high heels right outside the studio and switching from mind to body in a blink of an eye.

I see my fellow teachers struggling with this too. Always teaching, teaching, teaching...always giving. Perhaps the ultimate oxymoron is being stressed out from teaching too much yoga.

I struggle with this myself. Juggling and planning classes, private clients, projects, recordings, teacher trainings, planning retreats. Always trying to squeeze more juice out of my 24-hour day. Perhaps it's ironic—but telling—that I'm drafting this article on a crowded train during rush hour and in-between classes.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

"The Teacher Who Forgot to Be a Student." By Adrian Molina

Over the last few months I’ve been puzzling over this....
What is the best way to handle it when other yoga teachers come to your class and decide to put extra scoops of protein and spirulina into every single posture or flow you offer?
They go for the large size fries even if you offer only the small. They go for Venti even if you offer only Tall. They add extra shrimp even when the plate only comes with veggies.
What's the highest road to take? Should you say something when a colleague takes your class and decides to showcase their entire portfolio, in every single posture you offer, to the point where it becomes a distraction to students and even to you as a teacher?
A few months ago, I approached a colleague who was taking my class and very gently asked him to stop making a wet noodle out of every posture I was offering, and I suggested he might want to move his mat to the back of the room so he would be less of a solo act and more of a choir member. But it left me with a bittersweet taste. Who am I, after all, to say anything?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Power of Meditation: Voices of Students (Part Nine)

Over the past several weeks I’ve been working with students in a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training and helping them develop a daily meditation practice. I asked each student to explain, in their own words, their personal motivation for meditating. I’m sharing one student’s response per day. To read the introduction to this series, click here.


STUDENT 9:  “ I never thought meditation could be so powerful...”

STUDENT 9 took an interesting approach by journaling her experience after meditation on three separate occasions. In the process, not only did she gain insights into herself and her past, but she recorded how her own views of meditation and experiences with it radically shifted over the course of a few weeks.

March 18, 2015
Honestly, I do not meditate in the traditional sense. I sometimes feel I am meditating while I am baking but clearly I am not still nor is my mind clear because I know I have to take the cookies out of the oven in ten minutes so I’ll wash the dishes in the meantime. However, baking comes easily to me and is practically a routine, I am quite relaxed even though I am very conscious of time.

My very first experience meditating was at the age of 8 when my parents dropped me off at our Buddhist Taoist temple after school to keep the elder company. Pastor Chiang had a practice of meditating daily. The only guidance she gave was to sit on this chair with my hands on my knees, eyes closed and to be quiet. I think we sat for an hour.  Of course, I opened my eyes from time to time to look at her to see if she had her eyes closed, but also to look around the room. I remember waiting to see what would happen – maybe the room would change, maybe she would change – I was not scared, just curious.  I cannot remember much more from that experience, however, whenever I think of meditation, I cannot help but to relate this to Pastor Chiang.

Unfortunately, when Pastor Chiang comes to my mind, I can’t help but also think of all the pain she caused my family. But I have grown and do not associate meditation and Pastor Chiang together. However, I have kept my distance from stepping foot into any temple and meditating since my father passed. My father devoted his life to that temple and helping Pastor Chiang but all she did was cause us tremendous pain, especially to my mother.

I am a busy body and feel like I have to make use of all 24 hours in a day so I spend every minute accomplishing something. While I have not practiced meditation because I have not looked at it as an act of accomplishment, I am willing to do my homework and try to meditate daily for 10 minutes and see where it takes me.

March 19, 2015
Wow. I did my first 10 minute meditation last night. I realized that I had associated meditating to not just Mrs. Chiang but more so to all the hurt she caused my family and that I don’t think I have forgiven her for this. Taking the time to clear my mind allowed me to think more clearly afterwards. I realized I had suppressed these feelings of anger.

April 8, 2015
I can finally say I have meditated for 4 days in a row now – my longest stretch since Yoga Teacher Training started. And I find 10 minutes is not long enough. Usually, the monkey mind is still wild the first 5 minutes or I am still getting myself into a comfortable seated position. So out of the 10 minutes, I’ve only had 5 minutes of quality meditation. So last night, I upped it to 15 minutes.

“Alert! Alert! Yet, relax! Relax!” This is so on-point as to how I feel after I have meditated. Four weeks ago, my attitude was I’m so tired at the end of the day, I don’t have time to meditate. I have so much to do and I need to get some sleep - I don’t want to spend 10 minutes of time not being productive. What I have come to realize is that because not only is my mind so active with planning and reminding myself of all the tasks I need to do each day and actually doing all that I do each day, it actually is very productive to force my body and mind to stop and rest. Even more surprising is how relaxed and energetic I feel after I meditate. It’s like we all need a break from training. When training for a marathon, you need to build up the miles gradually, incorporate speed work but also take rest days and let the body and muscles recuperate. My mind is working every waking moment that it also needs to take a rest break. Before meditating, sometimes I have to reread the same paragraph two or three times to really grasp the meaning of the words. I think this is because my mind is so tired or cluttered with so many thoughts it cannot concentrate as well. But after meditating, my mind is clearer and more focused - I understand it the first time around. I have always believed in quality versus quantity but never thought this applied to my mind as well. After meditating, I benefitted from both quantity and quality with my reading.

I have also found myself to be a calmer person after meditating. The past three weeks have been quite challenging with issues I’ve encountered at work. I find myself quite angry in my work environment and have decided I need to leave this environment. I will never be happy here and should not subject myself to this harmful environment but am better able to deal with the situation until it changes. Meditation has helped me see that my personality just will not jive with my coworkers. And my supportive husband has helped me to meditate each day because he feels he needs to get back at me for always nagging him. After I tell him about yet another bad day at work, he immediately tells me to meditate.

Wow, I never thought meditation could be so powerful.

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Dennis Hunter is a writer, yogi and meditation teacher living in New York City. He is the author of You Are Buddha: A Guide to Becoming What You Are. He is a co-founder of Warrior Flow™ with his husband Adrian Molina.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Power of Meditation: Voices of Students (Part Eight)

Over the past several weeks I’ve been working with students in a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training and helping them develop a daily meditation practice. I asked each student to explain, in their own words, their personal motivation for meditating. I’m sharing one student’s response per day. To read the introduction to this series, click here.


STUDENT 8:  “ Regaining focus and clarity...”

The main benefit of mediation for me is to regain focus and clarity of the mind. In the world we currently live in, clarity and focus seem like “old school” concepts because it’s virtually impossible to stay away from screens (iPhones, computers, T.V’s). There are not many opportunities for us to stay focused on one thing for a long period of time or to just look around you and appreciate what goes on. Even for a minute. Just an example of a few distractions that happen daily and within minutes: you are at work writing an email, the phone rings, you get on the call and hang up, back to regain focus on writing that email, another email pops up, and you read the first few lines and you already think of what your response should be, then back to finish the first email, you get a text and you decide to respond to it later but then… what if I forget? ok let me respond to this, back to the email and now the boss is telling you what needs to be done. You see where I am getting at? Not to mention, after 8 hours of all this, you get home and what is the thing you turn on when home to fill that constant clutter/noise of the mind? The T.V. After the long commute home which is spent on the phone checking still more emails or on Facebook. Luckily, I am not so much like this anymore. I am usually the one in the bus or train looking around seeing the horrible sight of people only looking at their phones. But it makes me so sad and depressed when I do that.

Fortunately with the help of yoga/meditation and having moved to a bigger apartment, I am very proud to say I have rarely turned the T.V on or been on my computer at home for the past 8-9 months; which is also when I started to meditate. Having just a bit more room in the apartment made wonders to our lives; we have an extra room for meditation, home office and yoga. We even have a bigger couch now so we can both be comfortable when reading. Before we would go to work, go to the gym and then eat in front of the T.V. The apartment was so small that you couldn’t do anything else other than sit down and look at the T.V. What a trap life can be when you just do what you are supposed to do and don’t question the status-quo. This society feels like a well-run machine in which focus and clarity are hidden away from you. Unless you are smart enough to realize there is much more than this mundane daily routine of capitalist activities. But unless you do things like yoga and meditation or travel, you can’t quite realize that there are more things in life other than work, T.V, mindless shopping, stuffing your face with alcohol, food, etc. So many people are like this that it’s almost impossible to not be somewhat depressed about the world....

From doing meditation I can already see that I regained some of that clarity and focus I lost along the way. I cannot tell if it’s because of the yoga/meditation combination or meditation only. It’s most probably the combination of both. Regardless, this is a very small fraction of all the benefits that are still to come. It’s a long process, as anything else that has value in life.

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Dennis Hunter is a writer, yogi and meditation teacher living in New York City. He is the author of You Are Buddha: A Guide to Becoming What You Are. He is a co-founder of Warrior Flow™ with his husband Adrian Molina.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Power of Meditation: Voices of Students (Part Seven)

Over the past several weeks I’ve been working with students in a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training and helping them develop a daily meditation practice. I asked each student to explain, in their own words, their personal motivation for meditating. I’m sharing one student’s response per day. To read the introduction to this series, click here.


STUDENT 7:  “ Breathe now, think later...”

Before I developed a regular meditation practice, I often thought meditating meant…to take a time out, to chill, to sit still, to escape, to breathe, to relax…all those things we often associate with the practice of meditation.

The more I practice meditation, the more layers and more nooks and crannies I find within the practice.  It is so cool!

Sometimes when I meditate, I feel as if I am playing a game of tug of war.  My mind wants to think and problem solve, and I have to say, “breathe now, think later.”  I repeat and use that as my mantra.

Sometimes when I meditate I watch the thoughts and use the practice as a gathering of information.  What are these thoughts about? Are they random silly things? To do list things? Big life things?  A combination?  Sometimes I use  meditation as an investigative tool and barometer to see what’s going on.

Other times when I meditate, I play the pranayama breathing game.  How many breathing sequences can I initiate and complete in a 10 minute session.  I just focus on breathing, alignment and posture.

Sometimes I listen and identify all the sounds in the room and how they come together.  This morning was, the cat grooming herself, the dishwasher cycling, the drilling outside and the heater, all at once.  I thought how fortunate am I to be in this present moment which will never exist again.

As I meditate more, the practice is unfolding.  Meditation means so much more to me now than my initial impressions which were to chill, to sit still, to escape, to breathe, to take a time out. Presently, meditation is all that and much much more.  Each and every time I sit, I get to go a little deeper, make up a few more games, see a new level and become more inspired.

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Dennis Hunter is a writer, yogi and meditation teacher living in New York City. He is the author of You Are Buddha: A Guide to Becoming What You Are. He is a co-founder of Warrior Flow™ with his husband Adrian Molina.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Power of Meditation: Voices of Students (Part Six)

Over the past several weeks I’ve been working with students in a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training and helping them develop a daily meditation practice. I asked each student to explain, in their own words, their personal motivation for meditating. I’m sharing one student’s response per day. To read the introduction to this series, click here.


STUDENT 6:  “ Listening…like a reverse prayer…”

Meditation for me is a time set apart from the everyday tasks; it’s a time out to tune in, to explore, listen, become aware, feel, pray, look, observe, think, relax the thoughts, try not to think to much and simply be with myself, breathe in quiet contemplation and sit with whatever comes up. Each time is different.

When I meditate I feel like I’m diving into the ocean; its vastness can never be known – just as the vastness of my own mind; and I’m learning to appreciate the process. Sometimes it’s fun to watch thoughts — like oh, where did that thought come from? — and then watch them float away.  I feel a little lighter after meditation as if part of the dense fog in my mind has lifted and I can see a little more clearly and relate to myself and others a bit more wholeheartedly.

Sometimes when I meditate I have the purpose of listening – like a reverse prayer – I don’t ask for anything, I just want to listen and feel my heart beating. Other times during meditation, my mind is a torrent of thoughts and emotion and it feels overwhelming, my breathing becomes more like hyperventilation and it’s in these moments that I become very aware of just how I want to move away from these moments, because they feel like I’m in the middle of storm in the ocean! But, when I allow myself to stay, with tissue box by my side, to hold to my seat and “ride the waves” so to speak, well then I become amazed because at some point I calm.

Meditation helps me to connect to my joy as well as my pain. It offers me the opportunity to find appreciation for life’s ups & downs and helps me to cultivate compassion for myself and for others.

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Dennis Hunter is a writer, yogi and meditation teacher living in New York City. He is the author of You Are Buddha: A Guide to Becoming What You Are. He is a co-founder of Warrior Flow™ with his husband Adrian Molina.

"Me, Myself and I" by Adrian Molina

I remember when I was new to yoga, I took a couple of classes a week. I was (and still am at times) a bit of a control freak. I used to arrive to classes 30 minutes early just to get my favorite spot. Second row, right side, next to the wall. Super convenient and very strategic. I had a good view of my teacher. I was close enough to the windows to feel the (Miami) ocean breeze in Shavasana, and I had a wall next to me — not for inversions but as a protective device. I preferred back then to have a wall next to me rather than a person. I wasn't exactly very social back then.

The 30-minute early arrival plan worked for a few months, but one day someone had arrived at the studio earlier than me and usurped my chosen spot.

I was devastated. I felt like having a meltdown.

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