Meditation

At one point in time in my life Meditation was one of those things that was always elusive to me. I was a dabbler. Then when I was pregnant with my third daughter it became a staple in my life. After she was born I rooted in daily meditation even more. Then I became more structured with my meditation practices and even started practicing twice a day. Now my you get daughter is 5 and I can say that daily meditation has save my life and in times of stress and anxiety became even more important. I have tried many different times of meditation and its practices and on the solstice will release a meditation e-book.

Meditation has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being.

There are many types of meditation, but most have four elements in common: a quiet location with as few distractions as possible; a specific, comfortable posture (sitting, lying down, walking, or in other positions); a focus of attention (a specially chosen word or set of words, an object, or the sensations of the breath); and an open attitude (letting distractions come and go naturally without judging them).

Many studies have investigated meditation for different conditions, and there’s evidence that it may reduce blood pressure as well as symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and flare-ups in people who have had ulcerative colitis. It may ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, and may help people with insomnia. I know it helps me.

Most first-time meditators find it strange to sit in silence, to sit with their innermost thoughts and feelings, to sit and do nothing — the very things that, funnily enough, the mind tends to resist. To a beginner, meditation might initially feel a little alien, perhaps even daunting, but that’s okay. People have been meditating for eons, and many have doubtless experienced the same reticence, trepidation, or wonder that first-time meditators often feel.

Maybe you want to start meditating because you want to be less reactive, feel less stressed, or be more focused. Maybe meditating is part of a wider personal development plan of some kind. Or maybe you’re looking to improve your relationships with those around you. Whatever the reason, training the mind through meditation is training in awareness, and training in awareness offers the potential to fundamentally transform your perspective on life.

Our entire existence is experienced through our minds, and our perspective on life can dramatically alter once we begin meditating. Being inspired to start meditating is very different from actually doing it, however, have only felt the benefits of meditation by beginning and maintaining a regular practice. In order to  understand meditation, simply do meditation. In order to calm your mind, you need to begin by simply sitting, take a few deep breaths…… and check out my Heart Centered Meditation ebook!

Love, Michelle

Miriam’s Soup

This soup was originally made by my friend Miriam and my daughter loves it! We have recreated a similar version to the original and call it Miriam’s soup. I hope you love it as much as we do!

Serves 4

  • 1/2 leek or onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons tamari
  • 1 cup lentils (sorted and rinsed)
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups of greens, spinach, kale, cabbage, collard greens, Swiss chard (sliced thin)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  1. Sauté leeks or onion with celery, carrots, sweet potato and ginger in olive oil
  2. Add rosemary, cumin, allspice, pepper, tamari
  3. Next add, lentils and 6 cups of water and by leaves. Bring soup to a boil then reduce and simmer till lentils are tender. About 40 minutes
  4. If needed, add a little more water and salt to desired taste
  5. Add greens of your choice and simmer until wilted. Remove bay leaves and serve
  6. Top with a little parsley

Enjoy this grounding soup in the evening on a cold night, so good for the body, mind and soul!

Love, Michelle

Dance with Yoga

Every year, you hear more people start “doing” yoga. Maybe it’s your friend, a coworker, or a family member. There’s something magnetic about the practice that makes everyone instantly attracted to it. Moving your body, keeping it limber, noticing the little nuances.

In my personal dance with yoga, I have been practicing asana for about 20 years now, it has lead me to deeper spaces of my being than I was unaware existed. I haven’t been to an actual asana class for years, unless you count that Im currently in a 300 hour We Evolve training I am participating in.

When you go for your first asana practice, you might think it will improve only one aspect of your life. Perhaps you do it for its physical benefits, or because you want to incorporate some type of spiritual practice into your life. But soon you realize it seems to affect every aspect of your being – and soon you come to realize, the more you learn, the less you know and the practice of yoga becomes more important, it somehow becomes part of you.

The True Importance Of Yoga

True yogis understood that humans are physical, mental, and spiritual beings. Yoga, which in a literal sense, means “to yolk” works on all of the subtle layers of our body to, bring us back to our center or seat and bring us back to harmony. True yoga in India, didn’t develop only around physical exercise, not at all. It was primarily a spiritual practice focused on the development of virtues, sadhana, and inquiry that help us reach our highest potential, and find purpose in our life.

Still, even if you only practice the physical postures or asanas, you will see a change in your being. If you incorporate pranayama, you get even more benefits. If you include meditation, well the grey matter in your brain only gets stronger and more dense in certain areas of your brain. That’s not only a promise coming from subjective experiences of practitioners, it is also something that has been proven by science today. 

Physical yoga practice is a form of education about living a better life. On the mat, we become aware of our body and our movement. We connect to our breath and learn to control it. The breath serves as a sort of bridge between our physical body, our mind, and our spiritual self. You can experience that as soon as you start controlling your breath. And you don’t have to believe me my word – you can try it right now. 

Start deepening your breath. That means your inhales and exhales get longer, and you activate all the organs involved in the breathing action. As you inhale, lift both your belly and chest and try to make your exhalation longer than your inhale. Only after a couple of moments, you will experience a sense of calm, your thoughts will be quieter, as more air flows into your body, your nerves will calm down reducing stress and anxiety and the more you practice, the more your body will enter a meditative state. Try closing your eyes, and breathe for a minute or two.

Now, in only a few moments of conscious breathing, you have experienced the true importance of yoga. Without any preparation – you have managed to connect your body, your mind, and your spiritual presence.

When we start practicing yoga regularly, we learn of this control over our bodies. We learn we are able to calm ourselves down, heal our pains, and become aware of the present moment. This happens even if we’re not aware of it, but it does become more significant when we are conscious of what we’re doing.

After you learn to connect your breath, movement, thoughts, and emotions, this will soon lead to taking these skills and incorporate it into life off the mat where real “yoga” begins.

That’s the true importance of yoga. When we start experience this ancient wisdom first hand, and experience the benefits in everyday life, what a blessing our practice becomes. When we add the knowledge of Ayurveda, we then we are experiencing true health, harmony and happiness.

To understand your unique constitution, please feel free to book a consultation with me and I will even give you personalized pranayama and possibly some asana as well as diet, lifestyle and healing practices you can incorporate into your life. As we heal ourselves, we are building our personal spiritual practice and personalized medicine as well as improving our mental health. With yoga, you gain back control of your own being. That empowerment is what makes it so important, especially in this fast-paced time in which we are living today.

Physical Benefits Of Doing Yoga

Some people wonder if they’ll lose weight when doing yoga. Some want to improve their performance, whether it is greater flexibility or strength. The third want to heal their chronic pain or improve their posture. The truth is – yoga does all that. 

The reason why yoga improves every aspect of your body is that it uses primal movements. When you observe yoga poses, you will notice you’ve done many of them since you were a child. We squat before we walk, nearly every child tries rolling on the floor, stretching, and doing the candle pose. With yoga, we’re not focusing only on one aspect of our body. We’re doing natural movements that simultaneously improve our strength and range of motion.

Still, there are different styles of yoga you can do, if you want to focus on a certain physical benefit. All styles will still improve every aspect of your body, but some do some things a bit better than others.

For example, if your main goal is to build strength and to lose weight, a more dynamic style of yoga would be appropriate. There are many styles of dynamic yoga, including Ashtanga, Rocket yoga, Iyengar yoga, Hot yoga, and more, but they can all be described as Vinyasa Yoga. Vinyasa yoga is every type of practice where you spend a lot of time in standing poses and move through them at a fast pace. 

On the other hand, those who want to combat back pain and other chronic issues, or want to improve their flexibility, will be attracted to more gentle yoga styles. Although Hatha yoga meant something else in the past, today we relate this word to a slow and gentle yoga style. Other variations are Restorative and Yin yoga. In these styles of yoga, we spend most of our time in sitting and lying positions, and we hold them for longer.

Most yogis are attracted to one style of yoga the most. Still, with time, you will realize you don’t have to decide. Simply choose the style of yoga that gives you the physical benefit you need at this day, this season, or this period of your life. 

Mental Benefits Of Doing Yoga

Even if your main motivation for doing yoga is physical benefits, you will notice the mental benefits of the practice from your first class. 

By being aware of our body, and connecting breath with movement, we have something to focus on. At that moment, our thoughts slow down, and we begin to relax. Science has proven time and time again that yoga improves mental health. A single class can remove the stress from that day, and regular yoga practice can relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental illnesses. 

Whenever you feel stressed, anxious, or have negative thoughts about yourself and the world – try doing yoga. At least for that hour, and an hour after the practice, you’ll get back to a calmer and more positive state of mind. With time, you will see the benefits last longer, and you will be able to use yoga as a type of self-therapy whenever you want to improve your mental well-being. 

All styles of yoga will give you this feeling, whether you’re sweating through a challenging Vinyasa sequence or relaxing your body through a gentle Hatha practice. 

Spiritual Benefits Of Doing Yoga

Regardless of our religion or view of spirituality, most of us feel there’s something else, beyond our body and our thoughts. The spiritual aspect of our lives is what gives us purpose, a greater meaning. Only when we can feel our greater purpose, can we combat our daily struggles long-term. 

Yoga can give you that. The focus on the movement and breath allows you to calm your thoughts. When your thoughts and emotions are calm, you are able to return to the present moment. The present moment is when spirituality happens. 

Every person can experience something different in spirituality. It can be that you simply feel a state of love and bliss. Some get physical sensations, others have visions. That’s why it’s hard to explain what spiritual benefit you can expect from yoga. Yoga is very individual – and the best things happen when you don’t expect them.

Still, what we can promise is that you can expect to gain spiritual experience, knowledge, and understanding. When this begins to happen, yoga stops being merely a physical practice, and it becomes a part of your life. You start using the practice to improve yourself, to treat yourself and others better, and to finally find meaning, love, and true joy in this beautiful life you were given.

That was exactly why old Indian yogis created this practice in the first place. The goal was to reach a higher state of being and to live spirituality both on and off the mat. 

Many will say yoga today moved away from this initial idea, but that’s far from the truth. Yes, it did change – but humanity changed as well. It’s only natural we adapted the practice to make sense to this day and age. We need a different approach, we practice more physical poses, but the goal is the same.

And whether that goal is why you started doing yoga, or it’s only somewhere in the back of your mind, with regular practice, you will achieve it.

Keep doing the type of practice you enjoy, incorporate what you learned into your everyday life, and see for yourself how you and your surroundings change for the better.

Bring more joy, peace, love, and meaning into your life, and enjoy the process of improving your life little by little, every day with yoga. 

Cool and Calm Hibiscus Sun Tea

By Michelle Berry

This tea is best in the summertime, it contains the tastes of sweet, bitter and astringent to help us stay in balance this time of year. This tea is a powerful blood tonic and helps our skin look great, it also helps with water retention.

  • 1/3 cup dried Hibiscus
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1 TBS Peppermint
  • 1 TBS Rose petals
  • 1 tsp Brahmi or Gotu Kola
  • 1 tsp Shatavari
  • 1 tsp Fennel
  • 1 calendula flower
  • 1-2 Limes ~ Juiced
  • 1/4 cup Honey or Sucunat

In the morning, combine the herbal ingredients and put into a 2 quart glass jar. If you don’t have all of the ingredients on hand, thats okay as long as you hav Hibiscus, sweeter and lime, it will taste great! Fill the jar with 7 cups of blessed water. Seal the jar with a lid and place outside for 4-5 hours. After infusion is complete, bring inside, strain, add sweetener and stir, add lime and enjoy! Will keep well sealed in refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Cool and Calm Hibiscus Sun Tea