Morning Pages - Art of Living Retreat Center

Creativity, Spirituality, and Morning Pages

By Julia Cameron
July 20, 2018

Morning Pages - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

The main message of my work is that creativity and spirituality are intertwined. They each support the growth of the other.

 

The basic tool of a creative recovery is something that I call morning pages. You’re probably familiar with them–they’re three pages of longhand morning writing that you do first thing upon awakening. They brush all of your mental dust to the center, where you can sweep it out through writing.

 

How to do morning pages

There’s really no wrong way to do morning pages. You write with a stream of consciousness, and your only goal is to fill those pages. What you’re really doing, in effect, is minimizing your censor, the one that tells you you’re not smart or good enough. I call my censor Nigel. With morning pages, you have the ability to just say, “Nigel, thank you for sharing your opinion. But I’m going to keep right on writing.” This ability to move past your censor is a portable skill that you can bring with you every time you move into creativity.

 

The creativity myth

I think people are afraid of being “too big for their britches”. We have a spirituality-creativity myth that is sort of punitive–it’s a nice day in paradise, Eve reaches for the apple, she hands it to Adam (who is a hopeless codependent). He takes a bite and the clouds spring open, and a mighty voice says, “You two won’t even get along anymore. You’ll bear your children in pain and suffering.” From this story, we learn that if we try to reach for something that seems a little beyond our reach, if we try to expand ourselves, we are in danger of being punished.

 

But what if we had a different creativity myth? What if, when Eve reached for the apple, the voice from the clouds said, “Far out! I made that apple red for a reason!”

 

If we had a creativity myth that said we would be rewarded and supported for reaching, it would be a lot different. So what we try to do with the Artist’s Way tools is to learn to be in touch with a benevolent higher force.

 

Courage in creativity

The fruits of creative endeavor are many: a sense of well being, a sense of guidance, and the act of creativity in itself is a wonderful healing balm. There is no magic wand we can wave to become suddenly fearlessly creative, but the tools I teach, over time, create courage.

 

Three creative tools

There are three simple tools that, when used in conjunction, create a powerful spiritual awakening: morning pages, an artist date, which is a once-weekly solo expedition to do something that enchants or interests you, and walking. Morning pages are sending, artist dates are receiving. It’s like you’re building a radio kit. When you walk, you integrate the insights from the other two tools.

 

People actually struggle with the idea of artist dates. We have no problem with work–we’re in America! We have a work ethic! But we have a problem with play. Don’t confuse spirituality with seriousness. The tools I teach are playful and joyful.

 

Opening yourself to wonder

When we do morning pages, we’re ventilating to the universe. We’re saying, “This is what I like, this is what I don’t like. This is what I want more of, this is what I want less of.” We learn to tap into our true feelings and become more authentic.

 

As you write, you are setting yourself up for wonder. I recommend picking up a pen and starting with morning pages, no matter where you are in your current growth.

 

Julia Cameron the Artist's Way

Julia Cameron has been an active artist for over four decades. She is the author of more than forty books, including such bestselling works on the creative process as The Artist’s Way, Walking in This World and Finding Water. Also a novelist, playwright, songwriter and poet, she has multiple credits in theater, film and television. 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of The Artist’s Way, with over five million copies sold.

 

Join Julia at the Art of Living Retreat Center from November 9th-11th, 2018, for her retreat, The Artist’s Way: Blasting Through Blocks. 


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: creativity , emotions , Julia Cameron , mindfulness , morning pages , the artist's way , writing
Life is Easy - Art of Living Retreat Center

Exploring Wisdom: Why Life is Easy

By David-Dorian Ross
July 12, 2018

Life is Easy - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

Life is easy.

Don’t get me wrong – I know full well that this is not the experience that people are having. I get that. But the mechanics of life, essentially, are easy.

 

We’re great at making easy things hard

Relationships are basic. We’re human beings, and therefore we must engage in relationships. These relationships become better, deeper, more fruitful, and more powerful as we become more intimate, and that this intimacy requires a certain degree of vulnerability, and vulnerability requires a certain kind of self-confidence. So self-confidence is the key to good relationships. That’s very basic. That’s very straightforward.

 

Health is also very basic. Our bodies run on a couple of different fundamental systems. In Chinese medicine, we call the energy of life “Chi,” and it circulates around the body and is made up of specific components: air, which you receive through breath; food, that you choose to ingest; environment, or the colours, structures, and living things that you surround yourself with. This is basic stuff.

 

Stop resisting your flow

Unfortunately, our lifestyles make all of this basic simplicity hard, because our lifestyles are designed to resist our natural flow. We resist the easy things on an almost unconscious level and for very personal reasons. We each have our own personal history of physical, mental, emotional, and energetic traumas, and those traumas set up stopping points or interruptions fo us. But here’s the thing–when we can identify what those self-interruptions are, we can begin to do something about it.

 

For example, I take it back to the physical with my Tai Chi practice. How does the body resist easy movement? We become confused, we tell ourselves that we can’t perform certain actions. What we’ve got here is not magic. It’s not a mystery. It’s a pattern of resistance.

 

Misdirection and moving from the center

One of the common patterns of resistance is something we call “misdirection”. Misdirection is the tendency to pay more attention to the things that you favour–whatever’s on the surface or periphery of things, and at the same time, avoiding whatever’s at the center of something.

 

In Tai Chi, for example, we have a whole set of principles around moving from the center, finding the center, establishing the center, and remaining in the center. And then we look at people moving, and we see that the focus is not on the center at all, but on the movements that are supposed to be rooted in the center.

 

Focus on what’s important

This is a common pattern. We seem to place our focus on what is less important, and not on what is most important. There’s a reason that we get stuck in this misdirection. It’s because we’re getting rewarded for it on some level. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or energetically, there’s a reward that you’re receiving for this misdirection, over and over.

 

This reward is instant gratification. Instant gratification is the thing that is keeping us from making progress on our spiritual path, from approaching that place of happiness and contentment and community. Every one of these resistances gives us instant gratification instead of authentic growth.

 

How to be happy

So next time you find yourself lamenting about the difficulty of life, I encourage you to search for your center, and try to identify what instant gratification you’re reaching for. Choose discomfort and centeredness over movement and gratification, in your physical, spiritual, and emotional lives, and watch happiness become more attainable.

 

Grandmaster David-Dorian Ross has introduced more students to Tai Chi than any other teacher in America. Master Ross has written, produced and starred in more than 150 educational dvds and television programs. He is the founder and CEO of TaijiFit, the creator of the TaijiFit mind-body exercise program, and is the director of the first online Tai Chi academy. Trained in China by championship martial arts coaches, Master Ross has had an illustrious career in competitive Tai Chi, winning eight U.S. gold medals, a world silver medal and two world bronze medals —the highest awards ever given to an American for international Tai Chi performance.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: fulfillment , happiness , meditation , mindfulness , tai chi , wellness , wisdom , yoga
Meditation Expectations - Art of Living Retreat Center

Letting Go of Meditation Expectations

By Sarah McLean
July 12, 2018

Meditation Expectations - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

If you grow roses, you’ll know that sometimes one just won’t open up. You might want to pull it apart, thinking that you’re helping it bloom, but it just ends up looking like a mess. This is exactly the case with our spiritual growth, too. When you put too much effort into the natural awakening or evolution of your consciousness, you might end up with a mess on your hands–headaches, anxiety, self-judgement.

 

Releasing expectations

The way you can begin to become comfortable with letting yourself naturally progress is to let go of your expectations. Stop monitoring your experiences so closely, and let go of the results that you want. You need to be really kind to yourself.

 

To have a human birth is very fortunate. And to have a human birth where you also have the kernel of desire for enlightenment is very rare. Your path in this life is difficult, unique, and designed especially for you.  When you let go of your expectations about what enlightenment looks like, you open yourself up instead to relieve the exact medicine you need.

 

Non-judgmental attention

Your focus will start to expand as you settle into this non-judgmental attention. You move from an active mind to a receptive one, and sink into a field of love. That’s the source of attention. We are all an expression of love, and this non-judgmental attention helps you let go of your expectations further and surrender to an expansion of consciousness.

 

A state of transcendence

This is the space where the benefits of meditation arise–you purify your nervous system and dive deep into who you really are, which is a present, unique, expansive, infinite, timeless being. In that state of transcendence, you don’t know what time it is, because you’re in this timeless world. You’re in a world of healing, wholeness, and purity.

 

This state doesn’t happen because you wish it into being. It happens because you set yourself up to succeed by letting go of your attachment to the outcome.

 

Meditation is a lover. It always welcomes us back with open arms, without spite. It is always waiting for you. Go to it.

 

Sarah McLean considers herself an American Transcendentalist. She’s dedicated her life to exploring meditation: living as a resident of both a Zen Buddhist monastery and a traditional ashram in India, as well as living and working in a Transcendental Meditation center. She headed up the education programs at Deepak Chopra’s center in California and Byron Katie’s School for the Work. Sarah is a best-selling Hay House author of the books Soul-Centered: Transform Your Life in 8 Weeks with Meditation and The Power of Attention: Awaken to Love and its Unlimited Potential with Meditation. She’s also a sought-after speaker who is determined to create more peace on this planet by helping people wake up to the wonder and beauty of their lives and the world around them through the practice of meditation.

   

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: attention , meditation , mindfulness , Sarah McLean , self love , self-care , transcendence
The Feldenkrais Method - Art of Living Retreat Center

Basics of the Feldenkrais Method

By Lavinia Plonka
June 28, 2018

The Feldenkrais Method - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

The Feldenkrais Method was named after its founder, Dr Moshe Feldenkrais. He was always interested in how we learn, how the brain works, and how the body and brain work together. This method was actually created to rehabilitate himself from his own injuries sustained as an athlete and martial artist.

 

Rewiring the body with the Feldenkrais Method

In breaking down his own challenges, he started to discover that he could actually rewire his nervous system. He was half a century ahead of his time — he had ideas that now some of us have taken for granted as common knowledge, such as the fact that the brain doesn’t stop growing. He was one of the first people to talk about the holism of the body, that every part contains the other part.

 

During the course of his life, Feldenkrais developed thousands of different movement sequences and also worked one-on-one with thousands of people, leaving an incredible wealth of knowledge to draw upon.

 

Awareness through movement

Feldenkrais lessons are also known as Awareness Through Movement, which is a lot easier to say than Feldenkrais! It is the awareness of what I’m doing that actually creates the changes, and reprograms the nervous system, allowing me to find new ways to move.

 

My story with back pain

I actually got into this work because of my own pain. I speak from major experience — I was a performer for many, many years, and every time I wasn’t on stage, I was in pain. I tried everything, but it wasn’t until I discovered Feldenkrais’ writings that I began to realize that a lot of what was going on for me was habit, emotion, and tension that I was carrying in my body from a lifetime of ballet lessons and different attitudes from my childhood.

 

Once I started to unscramble those tensions, I began to move better and feel better. There was a huge change in my well-being. I could actually move around without my back hurting, which was amazing as a performer. I was more flexible. I didn’t need as much of a warm-up. I was more relaxed on stage, more present in my body. All of this began to allow me to move in a direction that I’d put aside when i was young, which was to write. Feldenkrais said that his method helps us realize our avowed and our unavowed dreams. The awareness of movement that his method encouraged helped me feel an opening of the emotional and creative spectrums of my life as well.

 

Widening the field of attention

Feldenkrais said that at every moment, we are thinking, sensing, feeling, and moving. How do we include all of that in our field of attention? The brain and the body are the same thing, it’s not the brain watching the body.

 

We define pain as the body’s response to disorganization. To be able to move with freedom and without pain allows you to live the life that you want. It’s the ability to be spontaneous, to be able to plan, to be clear about what your intention is, and for you to just feel better.

 

Less pain, more gain

There’s no strain in the Feldenkrais method, in fact, our motto is “Less pain, more gain.” We never try to push through–we use pain as information. When we encounter discomfort, we use it as an opportunity to check in with the rest of our body. There are a thousand things we can discover about ourselves in these slow, delicate movements.

 

Everything is interconnected. Your entire body is there all the time–you’re an information system. Everything in your body is responding to the information that you’re receiving. Everything is participating in the pattern of pain and supporting the pattern that you unconsciously choose. Nothing happens in isolation.

 

Everything is connected

If you think about a bridge, and your bones are the steel structures of the bridge, and the tendons and your ligaments and your muscles are the cables, imagine that one cable is a little too loose or too tight. That would affect the entire structure of the bridge, right? Eventually it will be in need of repair, or it will collapse. Every little thing that takes us out of our organization affects the entire system.

 

One of the side effects of the Feldenkrais method is relaxation. When our nervous system calms down, we kick into what’s called the parasympathetic mode which governs our healing, our learning, and our rest. When we experience that parasympathetic response, we are actually able to learn better than if we were straining.

 

Feldenkrais at every age

People at different stages of their lives experience different benefits. When people are young and active and athletic, if they integrate Feldenkrais method into their lives, they’re less prone to injury. They perform at higher levels. In the world of sports and the arts, the Feldenkrais method is used a lot by dancers, actors, musicians, athletes, because it takes you past your perceived limitations. You hit a wall — how do I go further? For the aging population, it’s a great way to maintain flexibility and maintain your balance.

 

Lavinia Plonka healed her own back pain using The Feldenkrais Method®. This inspired her to become a certified practitioner. Lavinia is considered a master teacher, as well as an internationally recognized expert in body language, offering workshops around the world. She is also the author of several bestselling books, including What Are You Afraid Of? A Body/Mind Approach to Courageous Living. Lavinia is director of Asheville Movement Center in NC, former Vice President of The North American Feldenkrais Guild and loves every opportunity to awaken people’s potential for joy. Lavinia lives by Moshe Feldenkrais’ maxim, “Movement is life. Without movement, life is unthinkable.”

 

Join Lavinia at the Art of Living Retreat Center from August 23rd-26th, 2018 for Moving Into Freedom From Back Pain, and change your relationship to your pain forever.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: alignment , back pain , Feldenkrais Method , Lavinia Plonka , mindfulness , pain

Exploring Wisdom: The Three Ingredients of Attention

By Sarah McLean
June 25, 2018

Attention - The Art of Living Retreat Center

 

I’ve made it my mission to demystify meditation. You don’t have to have a particular religious belief to find moments of sanctuary, or to nourish and feed yourself in mind, body, and spirit. My journey is ever-expanding, ever-evolving, just like yours is. It’s like a lotus that is blooming continually, revealing new petals all the time. My quest is to go deeper.

 

Seeking common ground

I’ve studied so many spiritual traditions, and throughout my life, I’ve always tried to find the common ground they share. I think it’s where we enter in from–whether you’re looking to lower your blood pressure, create peace on the planet, increase your immunity, or be a better listener, we’re all coming to spirituality through similar doors.

 

The first ingredient: willingness

What I’ve found in my studies is that there are three ingredients to the majority of meditative traditions. The first ingredient to a successful meditation practice is your willingness to do it. The willingness is born out of frustration, or desperation, or out of a deep and heartfelt longing.

 

The second ingredient: attention

The second ingredient is gentle, non-judgemental attention. But what do I mean by attention? Who is paying attention, and to what?

 

Turn your attention right now to the one who’s looking through your eyes. To the presence that’s beaming through your eyes, listening through your ears, that’s right here, right now, dwelling in this body of yours. Try to find that presence.

 

You are in charge of deliberately paying attention. No one can pay attention for me. No one can harm my attention for you. People can certainly try to steal your attention, but it’s your job not to let them. We are distracted all the time, and we must reclaim our attention again and again and again. The only way to peace is to be completely in charge of where and how you focus your attention.

 

The third ingredient: technique

The third ingredient is where technique enters in, whether you’re paying attention to a sound, a sensation, a visual element. It could be a candle flame, or the night sky. It could be the sound of the wind in the trees and over the red rocks. Or, it could be some sound you hear in your own body, your heartbeat, your breath.

 

You can meditate anywhere

Meditation is a solitary practice. Of course, you can find a place where you’re stable and comfortable, where you won’t be disturbed, where you can really lose track of time and space.  But you can also meditate anywhere, anytime, or on anything. When you harness the power of your attention, you can access it at any time.

 

Sarah McLean considers herself an American Transcendentalist. She’s dedicated her life to exploring meditation: living as a resident of both a Zen Buddhist monastery and a traditional ashram in India, as well as living and working in a Transcendental Meditation center. She headed up the education programs at Deepak Chopra’s center in California and Byron Katie’s School for the Work. Sarah is a best-selling Hay House author of the books Soul-Centered: Transform Your Life in 8 Weeks with Meditation and The Power of Attention: Awaken to Love and its Unlimited Potential with Meditation. She’s also a sought-after speaker who is determined to create more peace on this planet by helping people wake up to the wonder and beauty of their lives and the world around them through the practice of meditation.

   

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: attention , meditation , mindfulness , Sarah McLean , silence , transcendentalism , wellness
Arts Education - Art of Living Retreat Center

The Importance of Arts Education

By Neve Spicer
June 14, 2018
Arts Education - Art of Living Retreat Center
 

It’s no secret that learning and experiencing the Arts benefits us in a profound way. Indeed, 93% of parents consider Arts Education to be a vital ingredient in the healthy development of their children. It’s easy to see why with this visual guide by WeTheParents.org.

 

 

So why then are the Arts being squeezed out of our education system?

 

The reason is that schools are under intense pressure to focus their dwindling resources on “academic” subjects. Sadly, this means that Arts Education is being positioned on the chopping block.

 

In a bid to save the Arts, educators are attempting to show that learning arts enhance academic outcomes. While this is great (and, indeed, there is some evidence to show that they do), it is an approach that misses the point. The purpose of Arts Education isn’t simply to boost academic results. No. Being immersed in arts has a myriad of positive benefits that reach far beyond maths and English.

 

It’s essential to reframe the debate about arts in schools by arguing for the many “non-academic” benefits that the arts bestow upon children and young people.

 

Kids immersed in arts get to experience the world, and themselves, in a different way; one that cultivates cognitive abilities, nurtures positive character traits, and fosters critical thinking. It also has a huge positive impact on their happiness and wellbeing. Put simply, children who take part in Arts Education are more likely to grow into well-rounded, culturally open, thoughtful, and confident adults.

 

Scientific studies struggle to capture these subtle yet powerful effects. This lack of hard empirical evidence shouldn’t be a reason to drop the arts from schools. It does mean, though, that everybody who has experienced the positive and transformative impact of the arts needs to speak up and make their voice heard. This way, together, we can strengthen the case for arts in education.

 

Let’s be bold telling our stories. Let’s shout about the way arts have changed our lives for the better. It’s vital that we pass this gift on to the new generation of children. After all, we need art in the world as much as them.

   

Neve Spicer is a mom and blogger looking for simplicity, meaning, and humor in parenting. Together with her partner, Keane, she runs wetheparents.org. Neve and Keane are ex-teachers and project managers who get obssessed with researching and writing precisely. They love to get nerdy, testing and reviewing the gear that moms and dads (apparently) need.

 

Read more on the importance of arts education at wetheparents.org. 

   

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: arts , childhood , creativity , education , mindfulness , wellness
Breath - Art of Living Retreat Center

The Practice: Are you Bored with your Breath?

By Denise Lyon
June 11, 2018

Breath - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

At the beginning of most of my meditations I set an intention. This morning I asked for wisdom to arise that would let me know why I don’t always take care of myself…why I don’t always put exercising or eating better or resting at the top of my list. Why does everything else seem to bubble to the top? Why can’t I seem to get everything done. Sound familiar?

 

So I was expecting (ok, remember Denise…let go of expectations in meditation) to gain a better understanding of self love, self empowerment on a grand scale from the morning meditation. But you know what I heard?

Part of creation

My Breath Awareness Meditation taught me this morning that in every moment we are a part of the incredible life force that animates everything. With every inhale I am inhaling the very same thing that makes the sun rise, that makes a heart beat for the first time, that makes the neon green leaves emerge from the trees in Spring. With every inhale of breath I am honored to be a part of this creation, and with each exhale I have the opportunity to let go of that which doesn’t serve me…my judgments about myself, the lies I have told myself about me, my busyness that keeps me from seeing things as they really are…and on and on.

 

With every breath, let go

Every moment I can remember the miracle that I am and let go of anything that blocks the sunshine. With every breath I can do this. And with this same breath I can be reminded that I am a part of this life force. Wait…no, I AM! the life force that animates everything. I can allow the knowledge and the experience of this miraculous force to be what drives me everyday…that kicks my butt when I forget who and what I am. I exist inside the miracle of the energy of creation.

 

So I guess I really did gain a better understanding of self love. I have this to remember when I forget.

   

Denise Lyon is a mind and body healer, a soul-centered seeker, and believes that to create a peaceful and happy world, we start with creating our own peace and happiness. Denise is a dedicated meditator, a Certified Meditation & Mindfulness Instructor and a graduate of McLean Meditation Institute in Sedona, AZ. Her heart’s desire is to provide a path anchored in ancient wisdom and modern neuroscience to help guide us to that place of living together in peace and possibility.

 

Are you new to meditation? Join Denise for her introductory Meditation and Mindfulness retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center from August 24th to August 26th.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: breath , Denise Lyon , meditation , mindfulness , the Practice
Art of Living Retreat Center - Freedom

Exploring Wisdom: Stacey Vann & Pamela Hunter on Freedom

By Pamela Hunter
May 12, 2018

Art of Living Retreat Center - Freedom

 
“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds.” — Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras
 

What is being free?

How do you experience freedom? This is a question I often ask our retreat participants. Are you aware of how freedom feels in your body, mind, and Spirit? Our awareness forgets simply for the joy of remembering. Feel your feet on the earth and observe your breath.

 

Remembering freedom

Remember a time as a child when you felt free. How does it feel in your body? Where are you? What are the scents in the air? What sensations are touching your skin? What sounds do you hear? Do you remember a taste on your tongue? Simply pause in the memory of that moment.

 

Authentic joy

Bring that memory into present time and awaken your awareness to the feeling of freedom. My memory is riding my bicycle with no hands in the California summer heat while visiting my grandparents. You are authentically joyful, because depression does not ride on your bike with your hands in the air and your heart open to the world. You are one with the wind. You are one with your Spirit. Everyday, we have the choice to choose freedom.

 

Awakening awareness

During our retreat together, we awaken our awareness to feel freedom, feel joy, feel authentic. Through the simple actions of self-care, self-love, self-reflection, we remember our joy. How did we ever forget?

 

Join us for self-care, self-love, and self-reflection at our Awakening Your Essence retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center, from September 21 to 24, 2018.

 

Stacey Vann, E-RYT 500, and Pamela Hunter, E-RYT 500, are the Aloha Sistas. Stacey is a mother of five, Soul-Centered Life Coach, Doula, Reflexologist, and the Founder of the Mahabhuta Yoga Festival and Galactic Child Yoga. Pamela is a mother of two, an Integrated Health Coach, an Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Certified trainer, and the owner of Fun Lovin’ Wellness.


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: exploring wisdom , freedom , happiness , joy , memory , mindfulness , pamela hunter , stacey vann
Art of Living Retreat Center - Walking through the Door

In House: Stacey Vann & Pamela Hunter on Walking Through the Door

By Pamela Hunter
April 30, 2018

Art of Living Retreat Center - Walking through the Door

 

“Walk through the door. It’s the step you’ve waited your whole life for. Go ahead and do your work, realize your vision, and find your wroth. We’re walking with you, every step of the way. We will always be with you. You will find your way… follow your heart.” – Wah!

 

Walking through the door

I remember walking through the door to my very first yoga class, and then my first workshop, and finally, not soon enough, my first retreat. The progression of being ready to walk through the door for the different intensities of my yoga journey was all-life giving.

 

What has yoga given you?

Yoga gave me a home to come to within myself and within community. What has yoga given you? How does yoga feel for you? Do you remember when you first walked through the door? Sometimes we need to free ourselves from our typical daily life in order to sit in the rhythms of our soul.

 

The magic of awareness

We invite you to sit for a moment here and now and observe your rhythm. Feel your feet and the earth you touch. Notice the motion of your breath. Follow your heartbeat. Sense what you taste in your mouth. Does the taste match what you are smelling? Allow the noises you hear around you to be included. Envision your essence pulsating from within. Our vibrational rhythms support us as we awaken our awareness to feel our essence where we can embrace our innate wisdom, truth, consciousness, and bliss.

 

An invitation to self-care

Is your heart calling you to interweave your yoga with essential oils, sound, nature, and community? Can you give yourself time and space to walk through the door? Join us for self-care, self-love, and self-reflection at our Awakening Your Essence retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center, from September 21 to 24, 2018.

 
“Come and you will find the inner one you want to. 
Find the inner mind you’ve waited so long to.” — Wah
 

Stacey Vann, E-RYT 500, and Pamela Hunter, E-RYT 500, are the Aloha Sistas. Stacey is a mother of five, Soul-Centered Life Coach, Doula, Reflexologist, and the Founder of the Mahabhuta Yoga Festival and Galactic Child Yoga. Pamela is a mother of two, an Integrated Health Coach, an Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Certified trainer, and the owner of Fun Lovin’ Wellness.


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: in house , journey , mindfulness , pamela hunter , stacey vann , wellness , yoga
Art of Living Retreat Center

The Practice: Creating a Home Meditation Space

By Alejandra Roca
February 10, 2018

Art of Living Retreat Center

 

Recharging your body and mind, improving your focus, and boosting clarity are all great reasons to meditate — but what if you could improve on what you’re already doing?

 

What if you could create the perfect meditation space in your home?

Carving out a private enclave for meditation doesn’t have to be tough, whether you’re living in a studio-sized condo or a spacious estate with a dozen spare rooms you’ve never used. With a few simple tips, you can transform any space into a private nook where you can disconnect from daily stresses, internal dialogue, and negative experiences.

 

What is a meditation space?

A meditation space is a sacred spot where you can release stress, find serenity, and center yourself. Sacred doesn’t necessarily mean religious or spiritual; in this context, it means you only use the area for meditation, yoga, rest, or stillness. It’s your own personal retreat within your home, and you can designate a corner, a partitioned space, or even an entire room to it as long as you feel good about your choice.

 

Exceptional spots for a meditation space in any home

This is your space, so there isn’t a one-size-fits all spot that works for everyone. Ideally, you’ll be able to walk through each room in your home and narrow down your choices to rooms you absolutely love — those that make you smile, relax you, and give you a sense of peace. As you search for your perfect meditation space, be mindful that:

 
  • Facing a southeast corner will bathe you in early morning light, which may be perfect for dawn meditation.
    Facing a northwest corner will let you bask in the sun’s waning rays, which ould be ideal if you’re an evening meditator.
  • Facing due east emulates Buddha, who sat beneath the Bodhi tree and meditated directly toward the early morning sun.
 

Where to meditate in a small home

If you don’t have much room to spare, a terrace, patio or corner of a room in a condo or townhouse might be the perfect spot to set up your meditation space. Add a privacy screen or hang billowing curtains from a single point on the ceiling to shut out the world while you connect with your inner self, or clear out a closet for instant (and expense-free) privacy.

  • Although it’s tough to find spare square footage in a condo, apartment or studio, you can make extra room by:
  • Swapping out your sofa for comfy chairs
  • Installing a loft bed in a room with high enough ceilings
  • Storing non-essential accessories and furnishings rather than trying to cram them all into your space
  • Using wall cabinets rather than freestanding bookshelves in your decor
 

Where to meditate in a more spacious home

Create your private paradise in a quiet corner, in an enclosed room or the garden to find your inner peace. One of the keys to successful meditation is carving out a distraction-free environment where you can get comfortable.

 

Spots to avoid

Steer clear of high-traffic areas or those where distractions are likely to pull you off the path to Nirvana. Try to avoid the kitchen, the living room, or anywhere too close to the lavatory, the front door, or a space that faces the street. Your home office may drag your mind toward work, and a place that makes you want to nap rather than meditate, like your bedroom, might be a little too relaxing.

 

Meditation room ideas

The more peaceful, relaxing, and beautiful your meditation room is, the more time you’ll want to spend there. you’ll feel it pulling you in before you start your day, each time you need a break, and when you wind down for the night.

 

The perfect room decor in a meditation space

Designing your Zen meditation space for self-help and personal development requires you to stick to a few principles:

 
  • Keep your space clean and clutter-free.
  • Only include items you love and that contribute to your happiness and peace.
  • Add natural elements where possible, such as living plants and stones.
 

The bare essentials

You don’t have to dedicate an entire room and a month’s salary to creating your meditation space. The simplest — and sometimes most effective — meditation spaces feature only bare essentials, such as:

 
  • Meditation cushions or a soft spot to sit
  • Natural light
  • Something with personal significance, like bells, crystals, or affirmation stones
  • Fresh air
 

If you can, spring for a serene color palette in the room. Neutrals, which are the most popular (think earth tones and off-whites), are what you’ll find in monasteries and professionally designed meditation spaces, but here’s where you can make it interesting. Dark colors make a room feel smaller, which is ideal if you want to feel enveloped in your space, and pastels lend an airy, open feeling to any room, which could be perfect if you prefer a sense of freedom while you meditate. Bright, glossy white that produces glare is generally off-limits, though, because it’s too harsh for the serene environment you’re trying to create.

 

Pro tip: If natural sunlight hits the wall and makes you squint, the paint color is wrong for your meditation space.

 

Zen touches

Your meditation room can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be. A few carefully chosen elements can turn any space into a soul-nourishing haven. Consider adding decor such as:

 
  • Attractive incense burners
  • A fountain for the sight and sound combination
  • Singing bowls
  • Decorative cushions
  • A Zen sand table
  • Aromatherapy diffusers
  • Adjustable lighting
  • An altar
  • Candles
 

Bare wood floors can add a sense of authenticity to your meditation room, and they can make the room appear (and feel) larger – but they’re not necessary as long as you have the proper posture. A plush area rug or tatami mat on top of carpet can carve out a private space where you can meditate, practice yoga or rest without costing you a fortune.

 

The best plants for meditation spaces

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Most people find that having at least one living plant makes a huge difference in the quality of a meditation space. They’re essential for pulling volatile organic chemicals out of the air and allowing you to commune with natural, earthy elements. Plants that thrive in low light and contribute to Zen include:

  • Philodendron
  • Pothos
  • Sansevieria
  • Echeveria
  • Monstera Deliciosa
 

What not to put in your meditation space

Few things are more distracting than clutter, so your meditation room needs to be light on things that can counteract your Zen. Avoid electronics (the TV has to go!) except for music players or electronic aromatherapy diffusers, and banish toys, paperwork or other distractors that will prevent you from connecting with yourself.

 

Bonus tips for the perfect meditation room

  • Buy plug protectors in case you’re tempted to bring in electronics (other than that music player). They serve as a gentle reminder that technology is unwelcome in your space.
  • If your window has a bad view, use Japanese rice paper or privacy glass decals to shut out the world without compromising your natural light.
  • This room is your escape, so nothing that pulls you back into your everyday existence belongs there.
 

What’s your dream meditation space like?

With a little planning and a dash of inspiration, anyone can create a spectacular meditation space — and we’d love to hear about what you’ve already done. Share your story in the comments below!

 

by Alejandra Roca. This article first appeared on Redfin.com

 
 

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