Primal Reboot – Week 1

I am doing another Primal Challenge with a few friends.  Summer, counter-intuitively, always means weight gain for me.  Why?  Because even though we are outside more and get more exercise in, we are also biking to the brewery or to lunches consisting of famous Iowa tenderloins and hand-cut fries.  Even a 2-hour bike ride stands no chance against a couple of drinks and nachos.

We started the Challenge on Monday.  My main goals for the challenge are:  1) No alcohol for 21 days, 2) Meditate for at least 10 mins daily, and 3) Walk outside for at least 30 mins daily.  You may think  that these are not exactly “stretch” goals for someone who is pretty healthy.  But, trust me, they are!  Between working full-time, teaching yoga part-time, prepping for the classes, sleeping, eating, continuing my movement education, etc., my days get really full.  I have not been doing a good job of prioritizing the behaviors that I preach in my yoga classes.  Also, I’ve fallen into the habit of having 1-2 drinks each night.  So that is what I’m mainly tackling this go-around.

I have been doing really well so far!  No drinks for 7 days means my stomach is flatter (less bloated), and my sleep quality has VASTLY improved.  While I do not drink copious of alcohol and rarely ever get drunk, I know that alcohol really affects hormone levels (it’s pro-estrogenic), thus negatively affecting your risk of breast cancer.  It also saps my evening productivity something fierce!  I listened to a podcast with James Swanwick, and his experience going alcohol-free really made me question the innocuousness of my habit.  For some additional information on the effects of alcohol, check out this post written by James.

Prioritizing walking and meditation has also made me re-vamp my morning routine.  While I would love to read articles online for an hour each morning while drinking my coffee, instead, I drink one coffee, hop in the shower, go for a walk, and then meditate, and then eat breakfast and then go to work.  If I don’t take care of these two goals in the morning, the day escapes me.

Walking in the morning as the sun comes up is a beautiful way to start the day.  I love hearing the wind in the trees and watching the light slowly illuminate the neighborhood.  It’s also a good test of my proprioceptive skills, and I have to be cautious of ancient sidewalks dipping and rising unexpectedly.

And meditation.  Wow.  Lately I have been feeling more calm, less reactive, and more joyful.  Is it the meditation?  Is it because work is not really stressful right now? Is it because I am teaching more (which I love)?  Is it because I am sleeping better?  That’s the problem with changing multiple behaviors at the same time. I don’t have a control group. 🙂  I think it’s the meditation though – it trains me to take that second breath before reacting which gives me time to observe my instinctual response and reflect on whether it’s really necessary.  What story am I telling myself that is causing me to get fired up?  Is there another reasonable story that will help me maintain my equanimity?  Oh, I still get fired up, but at least now I am more aware of it, and it’s a *slightly* more conscious reaction.

There you have it, Primal Reboot Week 1.  If you are interested in learning more about the Primal Challenge, check out this link, or hit me up in the comments with questions.

Hope you have a fabulous Sunday and can get out and enjoy the crisp sunshine and crackling leaves.

Take care,

-Hlo

Meditation – Hlo Style

I’ve been dabbling in meditation off and on for the past four years or so.  Over that time frame I have discovered and rediscovered some things that I really love and that seem to work for me.  I think that all of us humans are different, though, so the style of meditation that really floats my boat may do nothing for you. But here is what I’ve found works for the best for me.  Try some of these out, and let me know what you think in the comments!

The simplest form of meditation is focusing on your breath – breathe in/belly rise, breathe out/belly fall.  This is a very relaxing form of meditation, but when it’s self-directed (e.g. Heather is telling Heather to breathe in and breathe out), Heather gets distracted and starts thinking about brushing her teeth or which Moleskin she is going to buy next or how dirty the floor is.

And that is why I am a big fan of led meditations.  And fortunately with the advent of computers and smart phones and apps, there is a plethora of options to choose from.  Here are some links to my current meditation tool-set.

  1.  Dharma Ocean 10 Points Meditation.  This somatic (body-based) meditation focuses your mind on different parts of the body.  It helps keep my attention focused, while at the same time allowing me to consciously relax tension that I am unconsciously holding.
  2. Yoga Nidra.  I LOVE yoga nidra.  This is the thing that sparked my interest in yoga 5-6 years ago.  With this style of meditation, the mind’s awareness is drawn methodically through different areas of the body in an almost hypnotic fashion.  I love to listen to this type of meditation before I go to sleep.  Here is a link to a couple of different yoga nidras:
    1. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/a-short-yoga-nidra
    2. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/a-long-yoga-nidra
    3. Google “Yoga Nidra,” and I bet almost anyone you find will be delightful.
  3. Insight Timer.   This is an amazing free app that has a TON of different meditations.  You can search for a specific type (yoga nidra, loving-kindness, etc.), or you can scroll through and look for ones that sound interesting.  It has meditations of several different lengths, so if you only have 5 minutes, scroll for 10 seconds, sit or lay down, and meditate for 5 minutes.  There are a lot of led meditations by British people, and that accent just really does it for me. 😉  The app also gives you the ability to connect with others meditating in your area, which forms a nice, non-intrusive meditation community.
  4. Design of the Body podcast.  For ~30 mins, Dr. Donna Embree  walks you through a meditation where you breathe up from the earth, drawing energy through all your chakras, balancing then and tuning in to your body’s “dashboard.”  This meditation is a little bit “woo-woo,” but when I do it (usually while taking a walk), I feel more centered and grounded. If you listen to this one, try to have an open mind and let go of judgement, and I think you will enjoy it.
  5. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
    1. Body Scan – 32 minute version.
    2. Body Scan – 20 minutes version.
  6. 8 Minute Meditation Guide.  This is the first book I bought on meditation.  If you do not want to go the “led” route, this book will teach you several different forms of mediation which you are encouraged to practice for just 8 minutes a day for a week.  My personal favorites are loving-kindness and body scan, but I got value from all of them.

Obviously I really love body-based meditations.  🙂

Hopefully you found this information helpful. If you get on Insight Timer, look me up, so we can support each other in our meditation practice.

Take care, and have a fabulous Labor Day!  Thanks for reading!