advice · habits · health · holiday fitness · holidays · meditation · self care

Making Space 2022: Day 6

Back on December 6, 2020, Martha was advising us to Get some fresh air and she was downright inspiring with the list of fun things she did outdoors on a unseasonably warm day.

That, in turn, reminded me of one of my posts from the fall of 2021 when I got into the habit of catching up with friends while out for a walk.

And THAT made me think of one of the reasons that this time of year can get so overwhelming. Most of us have lots of things that we want/must do but we don’t necessarily have company while we do them.

I find it less stressful to run errands if I bring a friend along for company (Hi, Mary! Thank you!) and I like to have a ‘body-double’ for tedious tasks of any kind. If I can’t have in-person company, then I often do check-ins with a friend online (Hi Trudy, Michelle, Kevin W, Janet, and Martha – all at different times! Thank you!)

Hanging out with a friend in-person or virtually really helps me stay on track and makes even a tedious task kind of fun.

Maybe you’ll find that the same thing works for you?

If you can’t partner up with someone for your current tasks, maybe a different form of virtual company might help.

You could try one of the many body-doubling/coworking online options: ADHD Actually Body Doubling Sessions, bodydoubling.com, and this article about the app FLOWN.

Or you want a way to frame your worktime, have some background noise, and be able to see someone else working away, you could check out the huge variety of ‘Keeping you company while you do stuff’ videos on YouTube. Here is a big list of suggestions:

Color and Chill With Me (Christina Lorre’ – this one starts with a fun and chatty intro but at around 10m 30s settles into colouring) Color with Me (Art Jalons – this one is quite short but fun), Color with me (Gea – this one plays soft music starting a few minutes in)

Read with me (shin – 45 mins with piano and rain sounds), Read with me (Kate – 30 mins, no music but there are bird sounds in the background), Read with me (Morgan – 1 hour with music)

Study with me (cafe.studyy – 66 minutes, soft music), Study with me (beetles in the sunshine – 1 hour, 39mins – rain sounds, no music), Study with me (Merve – 10 hours(!) – background noise but no music)

Clean with me (Lynn White – 17 minutes, music), Clean with me (Kris Hui – 25 mins, conversation), How to clean when you don’t want to (Aleisha Jay – 11 mins, friendly encouragement at the beginning, cleaning company after that)

Work with me [Vicky Zhao BEEAMP] – 75 minutes, music and typing noises – this video is using the pomodoro method of alternating 25 minute work sessions and short breaks), Work with me (Alexis AKA MissTrenchcoat – 3 hours with ambient music), Work/Study with me (Hara Studies – 2 hours, coffee shop background noise)

Mostly, I want you to be able to do the things you need to do in the most enjoyable way possible. If that includes in-person company or some sort of virtual company, so be it.

And, of course, I always recommend creating extra space for yourself in your day by including some movement and/or some meditation (videos below.) But if none of this works for you today, just take good care and be kind to yourself.

Your efforts matter and you are doing the best you can with the resources you have. ⭐

A 10 minute walking workout for seniors, beginning exercisers from the yes2next YouTube channel. Still image features two women in exercise clothing mid-step with their left legs forward and their right arms forward/left arms back. They are both smiling. The left hand side of the image has a purple background and white text listing the name of the video.
This 5 minute ‘meditation for busy people’ from Kendra Fried features a still image of a pond surrounded by trees. The trees and sky are reflected in the calm water.

In December 2020, Fit is a Feminist Issue blogger Martha created a tradition – a series of reminder posts to take good care of ourselves during this last month of the year when it is far too easy to get swept up in your to do list, no matter what you are celebrating or not celebrating. Last year, it was my turn and after an introductory Go Team post called Give Yourself Some Space, I created a series of reminders called ‘Making Space‘ that offered a suggested short exercise video and a suggested meditation in case you needed an easy way to find space for yourself in your schedule.

For 2022, I’ll be doing the same thing but I’ll also be including a link to Martha’s post from the same date in 2020 and I’ll offer a few extra ideas for relaxation, creativity, and self-kindness here and there.

These posts are not about insisting that you do more, more, more during this busy season. Instead, I want to encourage you to remember that there IS a *YOU* who is doing all of the things and you are worth taking good care of.

Perhaps the things I suggest aren’t what you need in the moment. That’s totally ok. Perhaps you can use something else to create some space, something that will help you feel more relaxed or more in charge of your day.

ADHD · Dancing · fitness · fun · holiday fitness · holidays · meditation · self care

Making Space 2022: Day 5

December 5th seems like a great time to prioritize fun.

Or, at least, to make fun ONE of your priorities.

Have a look at your to do list for today and see if there are any fun things you can do sooner rather than later. Maybe you love writing cards or baking cookies or shredding old files or making schedules or whatever you find fun but you put those things at the end of your list because you feel like you have to get everything else out of the way before you do the fun stuff.

To hell with that: DO THE FUN STUFF FIRST.

If you are worried about getting carried away with fun stuff and never getting around to the less-fun stuff (this is a worry for those of us who are neurodivergent) then modify my advice above to:

DO SOME FUN STUFF FIRST. Set a timer or some sort of other limit so you get to have your fun and do the other things on your list.

Just, please, please, pretty please, don’t think that you need to EARN your fun. You can put fun first, you can mix it in the middle, YOU get to decide where fun belongs on your schedule.

Martha is also pro-fun – you tell when you read her 2020 Move with Music post that she will back me up on my have-more-fun position here.

So, it the spirit of that, here’s a fun dance video to try.

Not only do I love this song, I love the instructor’s energy, I love how much fun the other people in the video are having and I love that there are some hikers and their dog wandering down the path at the back part way through the song.

Whether you get up and dance, dance in your chair, or just nod your head or wiggle your fingers in time to the music, I think you’ll find this fun.

A dance video from Caleb Marshall AKA The Fitness Marshall entitled “Love Shack – EASY LOW IMPACT CARDIO | Caleb Marshall | Dance Workout” The still image is of Caleb and two back-up dancers, all with one arm extended overhead and one arm stretched out behind them, standing in a field. There is a red highlight outlining each of them. There is a trail extending up a hill on the right side of the image and there are trees behind them. White text on the lower part of the image reads ‘Love Shack Easy To Follow Low Impact’ and there is a rainbow filter behind the text.

Next up, our meditation for today is about feeling energized. They get into a bit of colour visualization that I am sure is related to chakras but if that’s not your thing, you can just do the breathing and build up your energy in black and white. 😉

A Great Meditations meditation video called ‘Feeling Full of Energy A Five Minute Meditation’ The still image is a cartoon-style drawing of a person’s head and shoulders. They have long black hair and gold earrings and their eyes are closed. The background colour is light orange with a mandala in various shades of yellow and orange drawn in the centre behind the person.

Whether you are able to prioritize your fun, do the dance video, do the meditation, do something of your own invention, or just take a few moments to breathe, I wish you ease today.

Please be kind to yourself. 💚⭐

In December 2020, Fit is a Feminist Issue blogger Martha created a tradition – a series of reminder posts to take good care of ourselves during this last month of the year when it is far too easy to get swept up in your to do list, no matter what you are celebrating or not celebrating. Last year, it was my turn and after an introductory Go Team post called Give Yourself Some Space, I created a series of reminders called ‘Making Space‘ that offered a suggested short exercise video and a suggested meditation in case you needed an easy way to find space for yourself in your schedule.

For 2022, I’ll be doing the same thing but I’ll also be including a link to Martha’s post from the same date in 2020 and I’ll offer a few extra ideas for relaxation, creativity, and self-kindness here and there.

These posts are not about insisting that you do more, more, more during this busy season. Instead, I want to encourage you to remember that there IS a *YOU* who is doing all of the things and you are worth taking good care of.

Perhaps the things I suggest aren’t what you need in the moment. That’s totally ok. Perhaps you can use something else to create some space, something that will help you feel more relaxed or more in charge of your day.

fitness · habits · health · holiday fitness · holidays · meditation · rest

Making Space 2022: Day 4

Here we are on Sunday, December 4 and I think it’s an excellent time to plan for a rest.

Martha’s advice on December 4, 2020 was to Take a Nap and I am 100% behind that. Even if it is not possible for you to actually sleep in the daytime, planning a short rest period – sitting still, listening to restful music, taking deliberate slow breaths can make a huge difference in your well-being.

If you’d like some audio company for your rest, check out this episode of Dacher Keltner’s The Science of Happiness podcast featuring Tricia Hersey, AKA the Nap Bishop, from the Nap Ministry.

(Note: There’s a great quote from the Nap Bishop in Martha’s post, be sure to have a look.)

By the way, there are some guidelines for taking naps that you might want to have a look at – after all you don’t want your daytime rest to affect your nighttime sleep.

And now that you have been reminded about the hows and whys of resting, I have one more thing to ask you.

Can you plan short daily rest periods?

And/or could you plan ‘time off’ throughout this busy month? Even a few planned hours of deliberate relaxation scattered throughout the month can make a huge difference in how you and your brain feel about everything else on your list.

Seeing as we’re keeping today low-key, here are some relaxing stretches from Doctor Jo:

A video from the Ask Doctor Jo YouTube channel entitled Relieve Stress &Anxiety with Relaxing Stretches. The still image features Doctor Jo lying on her back on a blue mat and a pillow. She is bringing her left leg toward her chest and her right leg is bent while her right foot rests on the floor. She is smiling and she’s wearing grey pants, a green shirt, and light blue socks with whimsical patterns on them.

And next up, we have some yoga nidra – a wonderful way to get some deep rest without actually falling asleep (although, I often do.) This is a short video but if you like the practice there are plenty of longer ones available on YouTube.

A 5 Minute Yoga Nidra video from Ally Boothroyd’s channel. The still image features a person with a beard and chin length hair, wearing a light coloured shirt and dark pants, lying on their back on a yoga mat. They are in Shavasana, corpse pose. Text at the top of the image reads ‘5 Minute Yoga Nidra Rapid Deep Rest Reset.’

I hope the links and videos in this post help you find a little extra rest today but, no matter what you do or don’t do today, please be kind to yourself about how things proceed.

You are doing the best you can with the resources you have.

Be good to yourself. 💚⭐️

In December 2020, Fit is a Feminist Issue blogger Martha created a tradition – a series of reminder posts to take good care of ourselves during this last month of the year when it is far too easy to get swept up in your to do list, no matter what you are celebrating or not celebrating. Last year, it was my turn and after an introductory Go Team post called Give Yourself Some Space, I created a series of reminders called ‘Making Space‘ that offered a suggested short exercise video and a suggested meditation in case you needed an easy way to find space for yourself in your schedule.

For 2022, I’ll be doing the same thing but I’ll also be including a link to Martha’s post from the same date in 2020 and I’ll offer a few extra ideas for relaxation, creativity, and self-kindness here and there.

These posts are not about insisting that you do more, more, more during this busy season. Instead, I want to encourage you to remember that there IS a *YOU* who is doing all of the things and you are worth taking good care of.

Perhaps the things I suggest aren’t what you need in the moment. That’s totally ok. Perhaps you can use something else to create some space, something that will help you feel more relaxed or more in charge of your day.

accessibility · disability · diversity · equality · holiday fitness · holidays · inclusiveness · meditation · self care

Making Space 2022: Day 3

This post has a lot of different things crammed into it, kind of like an average December day. I tried to make them into a somewhat coherent whole but I’m not sure it worked. Let’s roll with it anyway.

On Day 3 of her 2020 Wellness Calendar, Martha telling us to Remember to Eat. This is another one of the basic that we often let slide during this busy month. We don’t feel like we have time to sit down for a proper meal so we just grab a snack and the next thing we’re cranky and running on empty. While I get that this kind of thing will happen from time to time, please do what you can to prepare in advance. That might look like making a plan about when you will take downtime for meals or it might look like planning for something quick to eat while you are on the run.

Speaking of all the busyness of the month ahead, one of the ways I’d like you to create space for yourself today is by ditching something from your to do list.

I know that sounds like heresy when there is SoVeryMuch to do but that’s exactly why it is a good idea.

Have a look at your to do list -whether that is on paper, on a screen, or in your head and turn your attention either to the list of stuff that you will do ‘if I have time’ or to anything on your list that you are absolutely dreading.

I would like you to ditch (or at least change) one of those things.

Yes, decide right now that you are not going to do it.

If it is something on your ‘if I have time’ list, then you will be able to create a little extra quiet in your brain. You will have one less thing that can float up to fill any downtime you are trying to create for yourself. And you will feel better about not doing it if it is a decision instead of a lack of time.

If it is something that you are dreading but that you really feel needs to be done, I’m wondering if you might be able to pass it on to someone else. Could there be someone in your life who would happily take that on – maybe not exactly in the same way you do but that’s fine too. Perhaps there’s someone you can pay to do it. Maybe you can trade disagreeable tasks with someone else. Or, maybe the task itself can be changed, reduced, or reshaped to make it less dreadful.

And, I realize that in one of the paragraphs above I told you to add something to your to do list (plan for your meals) and then immediately afterwards I told you to ditch something from your list. I stand by that apparent contradiction.

Adding things to your to do list that increase your well-being and your ability to take good care of yourself are more likely to reduce your stress than increase it. Taking good care of yourself increases your capacity to enjoy the rest of the preparations that you choose to include in your month and to keep the things you *must* do in perspective.

When I prepared last year’s Making Space posts I tried to include videos of people with a range of body types and abilities. I was moderately successful but I am determined to improve things for this year.

Since today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities I wanted to be sure to be open about my intention to be inclusive and to invite anyone who reads this to share any videos that they find useful. I don’t always know what search terms to use and I may be missing excellent videos because my vocabulary is limited.

These Making Space posts are not exactly the forum for an in-depth discussion of these issues but since I have your attention, I wanted you to know that the theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.”

I don’t think that my posts here are at all part of that sort of broad change but hopefully I can at least raise some awareness about today and give some of my readers something to think about.

I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about disability activism but some things things I do know are 1) every person on earth has the right to live with dignity 2) change depends on listening to those with lived experience 3) any practice, policy, or accommodation that increases accessibility, diversity, and inclusion is a good thing for everyone who makes use of the service/visits the building/ participates in the activity – an inclusive world is a better world 4) inclusive practices are not about catering to anyone or providing special treatment, they are about creating a more just world.

And I think we can all be part of that change by seeking more just and equitable practices in our organizations, workplaces, and daily lives.

Okay, back to the stated purpose of the Making Space 2022 posts: short workouts and meditations to help create space for yourself on your to do list!

A video entitled ‘7 Minute – No Equipment Workout – Ella’s Wheelchair Workout- Video 40’ from Ella Beaumont, she is wearing a orange tank top, has her hair pulled back in a ponytail and she is in her wheelchair in her living room. Behind her is a couch lined with multi-coloured pillows and a bookshelf filled with books and knick-knacks.

If you’re not feeling up to a workout today, perhaps this meditation from Headspace might be just the thing.

A video from the Headspace YouTube channel called ‘Feeling Overwhelmed? Try This Quick Meditation.’ The still image shows an orange rectangle in the upper left corner that encloses the word ‘Meditation:’ in white and blue text below that reads ‘Feeling Overwhelmed SOS’ on the right side of the screen is a cartoon image of an orange bucket that is overflowing with drops of blue liquid falling from the side into a blue puddle below.

However you choose to take good care of yourself today, I wish you ease in the process.

Please practice self-kindness.

advice · holiday fitness · holidays · meditation · season transitions · self care · yoga

Making Space 2022: Day 2

No matter what you have ahead of you this month, things probably feel like they are about to ramp up but they haven’t quite gotten hectic yet. That makes this an excellent time to put a few things in place for future you.

In 2020, Martha was reminding us that staying hydrated makes a huge difference in how we feel. And when we’re busy, we want to make sure to do anything we can think of that will tip the balance towards us feeling a bit better.

So, with that in mind, what else might keep us feeling a bit better?

What other small things can you do for your future self? You know, the one who might be a bit more frazzled that you are now.

Are there tasks that tend to build up over the month that you can do a little bit at time starting now??

Is there something that you often run out when things get busy but that you could pick up now? Like scotch tape, sugar, or soap – to name just a few things I have had to dash out and get at inconvenient times.

Can you block off some downtime later in the month? This could come in handy when you are invited to something that you don’t really have the capacity for, you can tell them that you are already booked that night!

Speaking of small things you can do for your future self, here are two videos of neck stretches that can really reduce the tension you carry in that area. Reducing that tightness could be just the right way to prevent a future headache.

Whatever you choose to do today, I wish you ease. I hope you can find your own way to keep stress at a minimum and be kind to yourself in the process..

A Yoga with Adriene ‘silent’ video called Yoga for Daily Neck Relief. This video has only music and no verbal cues. The still image is a black and white photo of Adriene with her hair pulled back in a lace band and low ponytail. She is looking to her right.

I enjoy the video above but since Adriene isn’t giving verbal cues, it might not be useful for everyone. Sooo, I have included the video below (another favourite of mine), that includes clear verbal cues.

A video from Mark Wildman called ‘A 3 Minute Neck Drill That Will Change Your Life’ – I’m not sure if it is life changing but it sure is helpful! The still image is two photos of Wildman sitting on a set of steps in a gym. In the first he is extending his neck forward so his face is closest to the camera. In the second he is pulling his chin backwards to extend the muscles in the back of his neck. He has his hands laid over one another on his chest.



Sidenote: As I mention in this 2018 post called Cause and Effect, Effect and Cause I have realized that while anxiety and stress can cause me to have a tight neck, the opposite is also true. If my neck is tight for some physical reason, my brain goes into overdrive because it assumes I am anxious. And, of course, with enough poking around, my brain will always find something to be anxious about. That anxiety makes my neck tighter…you get the picture. If that happens to you, too, these videos might be extra useful.

Not up to neck stretches today? Maybe this grounding meditation is more your speed.

A video called ‘Managing Anxious Thoughts And Stress with Mindfulness’ from the Headspace YouTube Channel. The still image has an orange background and a smiling yellow blob with its eyes closed is on the right hand side. On the left is text reading ‘Lost in Thought? Try Grounding.’

About Making Space 2022

In December 2020, Fit is a Feminist Issue blogger Martha created a tradition – a series of reminder posts to take good care of ourselves during this last month of the year when it is far too easy to get swept up in your to do list, no matter what you are celebrating or not celebrating. Last year, it was my turn and after an introductory Go Team post called Give Yourself Some Space, I created a series of reminders called ‘Making Space‘ that offered a suggested short exercise video and a suggested meditation in case you needed an easy way to find space for yourself in your schedule.

For 2022, I’ll be doing the same thing but I’ll also be including a link to Martha’s post from the same date in 2020 and I’ll offer a few extra ideas for relaxation, creativity, and self-kindness here and there.

These posts are not about insisting that you do more, more, more during this busy season. Instead, I want to encourage you to remember that there IS a *YOU* who is doing all of the things and you are worth taking good care of.

Perhaps the things I suggest aren’t what you need in the moment. That’s totally ok. Perhaps you can use something else to create some space, something that will help you feel more relaxed or more in charge of your day.

holiday fitness · holidays · meditation · yoga

Making Space 2022: Day 1

In December 2020, Fit is a Feminist Issue blogger Martha created a tradition – a series of reminder posts to take good care of ourselves during this last month of the year when it is far too easy to get swept up in your to do list, no matter what you are celebrating or not celebrating. Last year, it was my turn and after an introductory Go Team post called Give Yourself Some Space, I created a series of reminders called ‘Making Space‘ that offered a suggested short exercise video and a suggested meditation in case you needed an easy way to find space for yourself in your schedule.

For 2022, I’ll be doing the same thing but I’ll also be including a link to Martha’s post from the same date in 2020 and I’ll offer a few extra ideas for relaxation, creativity, and self-kindness here and there.

These posts are not about insisting that you do more, more, more during this busy season. Instead, I want to encourage you to remember that there IS a *YOU* who is doing all of the things and you are worth taking good care of.

Perhaps the things I suggest aren’t what you need in the moment. That’s totally ok. Perhaps you can use something else to create some space, something that will help you feel more relaxed or more in charge of your day.

On December 1, 2020, Martha reminded us that we are always enough (a position that I whole-heartedly endorse) and that things don’t need to be perfect to be good. Please go check out that post for an excellent reminder of how it is ok (and encouraged!) for you to show up just as you are.

On that theme, I’m wondering if you know about Jennifer Louden’s Conditions of Enoughness? I find them an excellent tool for keeping my self-expectations in line with my actual capacity but, like most useful things, they take a bit of practice. If you feel like you are always scrambling or if you have a nagging feeling that you are falling short, the advice at the link above could be just the thing you need to give yourself a break.

If movement is something you need right now, perhaps this short series of stretches will help.

Ok, so most of us are already up for the day but feel free to lie down again for a few minutes and do these stretches with Joelle. Description: A video called Morning Stretch in Bed from the Yoga with Joelle YouTube channel. The still image shows a person with long dark hair lying on their back at the foot of a double bed using their clasped hands to draw their right knee towards their body while their left leg is extended.

If meditation is more your speed, give this a try.

A short meditation from the Great Meditations YouTube channel. The still image shows a cartoon drawing of person with long brown hair with a peaceful expression sitting cross-legged on a fluffy cloud against a blue background.

Whatever you try or whatever you do, I hope you can be kind to yourself in the process.

PS – If you are already feeling overwhelmed by the thought of the month ahead, you might find this old article of mine helpful. December is like a messy closet, here’s how to get it back on track. I’m not actually too concerned with you be ‘on track’ but I do want you to have peace of mind and I hope the suggestions in that piece can help you move in that direction.

meditation

Sitting and getting comfortable, but not too comfortable (for meditation)

Hi everyone– I’ve been thinking more about sitting lately because I’ve a) driven a good bit the past two days; and b) went to a conference where sitting is what almost everyone is doing almost all day. Luckily I’ve been able to combine my sitting (both in car and conference room) with plenty of walking in between long sits.

But speaking of long sits, meditation presents an altogether different challenge on the sitter. You have to get comfortable, but in a way that is supportive, non-achy and non-drowsiness-provoking for maybe up to an hour (longer for some). Even sitting upright and not moving for 10–15 minutes can prove difficult. Feet fall asleep, necks twinge, calves cramp, and the imperative to move is strong. Not that moving to adjust position is a bad thing. It’s just (in my experience) that a quiet body is more conducive to a quiet mind.

I wrote this post back in 2020 (remember 2020? Never mind) about ways people sit in meditation. Of course sitting isn’t required at all– standing, lying down, walking– all of these are ways to comport one’s body while meditating. But I hope you like these options if you’re looking for a sitting posture that might work for you.

-catherine

fitness · meditation · mindfulness · sleep

A Year of Meditations

Last October I jumped on the Peloton bandwagon. A lot of my friends have one of their bikes and it felt like folks from all different areas of my life were happy with the classes. I don’t have a Peloton bike, but I am able to set up my bike with trainer to be able to take some of the Peloton classes using their app (I don’t get Peloton metrics with this set-up, but I have Zwift and Garmin metrics and am happy with those.) I learned that Peloton offered an “educator discount” on their app and off I went with a whole new world of strength, yoga, walk/run, and bike classes to try out.

A neon "breathe" sign on a background of greenery. Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash
A neon “breathe” sign on a background of greenery. Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

Peloton offers a lot of “programs” which are classes they string together in a series. You need to complete class one before moving on to class two, etc. I quickly noticed that they had a two week meditation program called “The Power of Sleep.” As someone who struggles with both falling asleep and staying asleep, I was intrigued by this series.

I have always liked the idea of meditation, and some parts of the meditation practice, but my attempts at regular meditation had been met with a lot of mental resistance and feelings of failure for not being able to “get out of my own head.” I’ve come to understand that those feelings are common and part of the process itself, but it took me some time to get there. Soon after I downloaded the Peloton app I began exploring their meditation classes, seeing which instructors I liked and what types of meditations were available.

Once I discovered “The Power of Sleep” series I decided to give it a try. The meditations were short, most of them only 5 minutes in the first week. My partner and I go to bed at different times most nights, so I would do the meditation just before going up to bed. I found them to be a nice transition from whatever I was doing before that (usually tv or reading), but I still had chores to do after the meditation, such as letting the dogs out and teeth brushing routines. I completed the two week series and went back to my previous on/off cycle with meditation for another week or two, but I noticed it was more on than off.

My partner was away one night and I put a sleep meditation on while I was in bed, just about ready to fall asleep. It worked so well and I fell asleep almost as soon as the meditation was over. I began to brainstorm how I could listen to meditations without disturbing my already asleep partner, and I discovered a headband with headphones built-in. I was already a sleep mask wearer to block out extra light, so wearing something on my face/eyes wasn’t something new to get used to… the headband was a little more compressive, and the on/off buttons hit right on your center forehead (or over your eyes if you are pulling it lower), so that did take some adjustment. Being able to listen to sleep meditations as I drifted off to sleep made the adjustments worth it, and I quickly fell into a nightly habit.

Over the past year I’ve experimented with a variety of meditation classes and instructors. I’ve narrowed my favorites down to about 3 instructors and a strong preference for “body scan” meditations. I don’t mind taking the same class many times, but I do have to rotate my most favorite so I don’t take the same class too many times in a row – that causes my brain to think I should memorize the whole class. Instead I have about a half dozen classes that I rotate through each week, and I always try new classes to see if they will make the rotation.

Pink sky with a rainbow over a lake
My spot when I need a “nature meditation.”

I have not meditated daily for the past year, but I have been way more consistent with meditation this last year than ever before. I will often reach for a short meditation during the daytime hours now too, usually when I arrive at my office and am getting settled in to a busy day. I appreciate that my sleep practice makes meditating at other times of day easier, as my brain and my body know what to expect and I can settle in more easily without a lot of mental resistance.

We talk a lot about meditation on the blog (and in our world) and at times I have felt frustrated that I wasn’t “getting it” or able to do it right. I’m glad this was something I kept trying until I found a way that worked for me… maybe that means there is hope for my yoga practice too!

Amy Smith is a professor of Media & Communication and a communication consultant who lives north of Boston. Her research interests include gender communication and community building. Amy spends her movement time riding the basement bicycle to nowhere, walking her two dogs, and waiting for it to get warm enough for outdoor swimming in New England.

fitness · habits · meditation · nature · October

Christine’s Meditative Afternoon

The Thanksgiving holiday gave me the opportunity to have a nice, slow start to my week on Monday.

I took Khalee for a walk and, even though it was windy, I took time to tune into my surroundings, noticing how the leaves have changed (or fallen), how the river noises are quieter, and how everything smells a little different right now.

A light haired dog on a green leash. Shadows from the dog and her owner are being cast on nearby grass.
It was kind of windy today but Khalee and I still enjoyed our walk. Image description: a photo of a light-haired medium-sized dog on a green leash is facing away from the camera while standing on a gravel path next to some grass. My shadow and Khalee’s are visible on the grass. Because it is late afternoon in autumn, the sun is low so our shadows are VERY long and we look disproportionately tall.

When I came home, I took down the load of clothes I had hung earlier. (It was a fine day on clothes, as the saying goes.) This task can be pretty mundane (or even boring) but today it was routine in a good way – repetitive actions with positive results.

A line of laundry in the late afternoon autumn sunlight
The repeated actions of hanging (and taking down) laundry) are meditative in their own way. Image description: a line of laundry hanging in my yard on a late autumn afternoon. The sun is shining through leaves so there are patches of sun and shadow The clothesline stretches from my patio to my shed so aside from the laundry, the photo shows some potted plants, a lawn chair with a red pillow, my patio rail, and some trees and my red-painted shed in the background.

As I turned with my basket of clean clothes, I noticed how inviting my swing looked and I remembered how much I enjoyed meditating while sitting there cross-legged the other day.

An outdoor shot of a hammock and a large round swing hanging from trees in the corner of a backyard. The grass in front of the trees is covered in brown leaves.
Two of my favourite parts of my backyard. Image description: a photo of one corner of my yard where my brown and orange hammock hangs from two trees and a round swing with green trim hangs from one of the branches. My wooden fence is one background and my (still green!) grass is littered with crunchy brown leaves.

So I decided to meditate there again today.

An outdoor shot of a woman (from the shoulders up) in her backyard.
No, I’m not actually meditating here, obviously. I was trying to use the back camera on my phone and took umpteen photos, each more bizarre looking than the last, and I fluked into this one. I decided to roll with it. Image description: an outdoor photo of me in my backyard. I am sitting on a round swing but it’s not visible in the photo. I am wearing a blue fleece jacket, my light brown hair is pulled back from my face in a cloth band, and my eyes are closed. I am smirking and I’m wearing one headphone. Grass, trees, my fence, (and part of my orange and brown hammock) are visible in the background.

And that brings me to 51 days of meditation in a row.

When I opened the Insight Timer app today, it offered this very appropriate quote for how I felt at the end of my meditative afternoon:


Mental health is not a destination,
but a process. It’s about how you
drive, not where you’re going.

– NOAM SHPANCER, PHD

I liked how, today, I have ‘driven’ myself calm instead of driving myself around the proverbial bend.

Wishing you all ease for the week ahead. Please try not to cram 5 days of work into a 4 day week. 💚⭐️

fitness · meditation

Streaking through meditation

Who remembers streaking? Not the hair-kind, but the running around naked kind. It was a thing in the mid-late 70s on college campuses that appeared, had its moment, and faded out. Before Weird Al Yankovic was old enough to drive, singer-songwriter Ray Stevens was on the case, releasing the novelty song “The Streak” in 1974. It was a huge hit, and then disappeared (as these novelty songs are wont to do).

Many of us have written about streaks, in meditation and in our physical activities. Mina wrote about her experiences at day 999 of her meditation streak. I’ve blogged about what happens when I get a 200-day streak going in meditation. I’ve also written about what to do when, for whatever reason, I miss a day of meditation. Most recently Christine wrote about her experience of 22 days of meditation.

It happened again a week and a half ago: I missed a day. I’ve finally gotten used to this– it’s not cause for feeling like a failure. Starting again is another (and very important) step in developing stable habits over time. Starting over. Picking up where I left off.

Looking at the Ten Percent Happier app on my phone, it faithfully notes and keeps track of every session. I really like how it shows my sessions over time. It sees all and tells all. Here it shows where I missed a recent session.

The last 4 weeks of meditation sessions, with one sad gray circle where I got too busy.
The last 4 weeks of meditation sessions, with one sad gray circle where I missed a day. The checked circle is today when I’m writing this.

But that gray circle is only one element of a larger picture. When we pan out and look at my sessions over time– also faithfully recorded by the app– we see two patterns emerging. Here’s pattern one, showing my streaks of consecutive sessions.

A collage of my 3, 5, 10, and on up to 200-day streaks, showing how many of them I've done.
A record of my 3, 5, 10, and on up to 200-day streaks, showing how many of them I’ve done.

You can see that I’ve started and restarted many times– 35 to date in the past two and a half years. There’s a serious drop off at the 10-day mark– only 11 of those. And there’s a further drop-off at the 20-day mark– I’m at 6 of those. As you all know, it’s hard to do most things (apart from teeth brushing, maybe) 150 days in a row. I’ve only hit that mark once. And oh, was I bummed when I missed a day after reaching the 200-day mark!

But hey, life happens. And, life (plus the app) reveals another way to frame my meditation habit. Take a look at pattern two.

My weekly progress. 70 weeks is missing on this slide, but it’s there on the app. I’m at 109 weeks today.

For me, maintaining enough continuity to keep the weekly streak going is something I’m focusing on. Yes, it too could get interrupted, so I would do what one does: pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.

Hey, does that sound like a song? If so, that’s because it is a song by Nat “King” Cole. Here’s the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald’s version, whose streak of magnificent performances is impressive no matter how you frame it.

Readers, how do you feel about streaks? Aiming for them, being in the middle of them, getting interrupted, resuming? I’d love to hear from you.